My Funny Valentine

Dear Grace,

I am just so distraught to hear about your dog. When I lived with you during those summers, she and I used to cuddle on the couch and watch movies. And when I ate Pop-Tarts I always fed her the unfrosted edges. I remember when you and Gordon first got her and she had that one floppy ear. She is the loveliest dog.

In other news, Abe and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day in our own weird, non-celebratory way. All day my students (who came to class laden with flowers and heart-shaped chocolates) were asking what Abe and I had planned for the holiday. I felt increasingly guilty when my answer was continually “Errrr . . . nothing?” My students were all shocked and dashed as they see Mr. Adams and myself as some sort of ideal-romantic-love beacon. So in order to assuage my own guilt at not planning some sentimental gift or date, I quickly made a card for my Valentine-hating husband. 

When Abe came to get me from work, he was waiting for me with a bouquet of pink roses and hydrangea. My favorite! We might not be the best at Valentine’s Day, but for us I think we did pretty good. Now we are watching Friends and eating sandwiches in the living room like we’re college roommates. It’s the best.

Although I am wishing I had some chocolates right about now . . .

Love Always,

Millie

 

P.S. If you need some card inspiration, I made a version of this one for Abe last year. Naturally, it was a big hit.   Image result for i love your butt let me touch it forever

Treat Day

Dear Millie,

I just got back from a high school choir Christmas concert!  I may go to another high schools’ tomorrow, because I need music.  I kind of wish I was on my way to Hometown and could stop off at the cathedral and sing with the choir.  I do think you and I should take them up on their invitation next time we’re in the area!

The concert tonight included a sing-along Hallelujah Chorus.  I didn’t go up and sing because someone had to be the audience, and I realized that while I’ve played it a bajillion times (and still love it), I only really know the violin part!  Maybe I should’ve gone up and proudly played air violin or something.

OH!  We started the tradition copying Mumsie’s Relief Society’s–(this being the Sunday before Christmas) we had a nice spread of treats/snacks for the women at church and it turned out great.  I was missing Mumsie while I made her recipes.  By the time I finished preparing her recipes, they didn’t taste anything like hers.  I decided that way, the women could also miss her!  Ha ha.  There were li’l smokies and fruit and veggie platters, and I made fudge, peanut butter fudge, dipped pretzel caramel thingies, cheeseballs, and Pops’ horse doovers.

(I also burned a batch of caramel that was supposed to be for my friend who doesn’t like chocolate [I KNOW] [I don’t think she really cares for food at all, to be honest, which makes me wonder how we’re even friends.  How can she know I love her if I can’t stuff her full of food?].  Oh, and I tried to make almond joy truffles which turned out tasting delicious but looked so terribly unappetizing, I “forgot” them at home.)

But!  The women were surprised and delighted and I was so delighted they were delighted!  I’m already scheming for next year (finger sandwiches?  Tortilla pinwheels?  It seemed we were short on food food) and I would love your input.  Better yet, I’d love for you to join me next year to help make it all!

This last week, I’ve been noticing little things that people do to help others.  It’s been amazing to see the goodness out there.  This week, I’m determined to focus my love, service, and attention on the ones who live with me.  I haven’t been doing so well including them in my #LIGHTtheWORLD doings, and while I love serving in my community, sometimes I need to remember that serving in my home lights the world too!

I’m off to make dinner!  Have a lovely evening and write me back sooooon!

Love,

Grace

Yahoo!

Dear Millie,
Happy Friday!  This is it for you, right?  Well, not it, like your life is OVER, but you know, the last day before your break?
I was just going through some old videos and got to watch you and your dance team win state!  That was fun.  Also a long time ago.  Do you still dance like that?
Did I tell you about how they did the limbo at our ward Christmas party and I was standing there on the sideline seriously considering showing everyone up because you KNOW I can still limbo like I did in high school/college/pre-children.  Wouldn’t that surprise everyone!  The woman who has a hard time sausaging herself into her two remaining pairs of non-yoga pants anymore and may not be able to button her coat (but MAYBE she just isn’t cold enough?  You never know!)…yeah.  THAT woman would show everyone!
Kind of like how I dreamed of showing up for cheer tryouts in college and surprising everyone that I could do handsprings and such and then telling them that never mind, I’d rather play drums in the stands.  I actually would rather play drums in the stands, but I still thought it’d be funny if I made the squad.  I know, I know, HILARIOUS!  I have a special sense of humor.
In the end, I think it’s a good thing no one spiked the punch at the church party, and therefore saved me (and everyone else from fremdschämen).  Doesn’t fremdschämen make you think of ‘friend shaming’?  It does for me.  Huh!.
Not saying anything in particular here, I just saw this and thought you’d enjoy some Fantasia:
My favorite biddy was telling me last night about a problem she had with her bank getting her mixed up with someone else with the same name.  In the end, she told them, “I don’t want any more crap from yous!”
‘Yous’!  I love it.  I feel kind of bad that I laugh when she’s being serious, but she has some of the best expressions.  She adds “yet” to the end of sentences and I’ve started noticing other locals do, too.  Kinda fun, yet!  (I probably misused that.  I don’t know what the rule is on it.  Yet.  Har!)
It’s not so cold today.  Snowing (we’re expecting a foot between today and tomorrow), but above zero.  The wind chill had put it at -4 when I realized Gordon had forgotten the plate of fudge I’d prepared for one of the secretaries separately from the peanut butter fudge (don’t you think peanut allergies are tragic?  I do.).  I ran out to catch him in my yoga peddle pushers, flip flops, and pushed-up-sleeves hoodie.  I thought I’d freeze to death and would surely regret not jumping into some boots, but it wasn’t cold at all and I stood out in the snow in my flip flops talking with him before sauntering back into the house.  It was a bit weird!

Lucy recently started running with her fists clenched and her arms bent and shoulders raised, and it reminds me of this:

Well, except it’s cute and not creepy (why are they running with their arms like that?  And why are their arms so short?).  Maybe I’ll just have to get video of Lucy doing it.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!  Happy Friday!
Love,
Grace

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Dear Millie,

Okay, fine.  I’m cold.  I sent the boys to the bus stop and it was -4 degrees.  Windchill was -29.  The wind whips over the ground and picks up loose snow and swirls like a dust storm.  My backyard looks like a white Sahara.

I dreamed last night that Gordon took a job in Utah.  UTAH, of all places.  I was devastated because I love it here, and for the whole dream I was begging him to promise we’d visit frequently and maybe have a second home here (and maybe he could just visit me and the kids here on the weekends?).  Then I thought about all the perks of living in Utah (family is so much closer!  That’s about it…just kidding.  There’s Hires too.) and I felt marginally better.  I can’t believe I live here in the crazy cold and that I mostly even like that (maybe because I have a crazy insulated house and can enjoy the picturesque view while in my cozy yoga pants and hoodies).

Last week when I was helping clean that house (not my house!  Psh.  Who would do that?), I was running stuff in and out of the house and it was 20 degrees and I was so glad I was wearing short sleeves.  So weird.

Paul woke me up wanting to know whether they had canceled school.  Nope.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  Truman woke me up and wanted me to take his temperature.  Normal.  At breakfast, Kyle and Truman were complaining that they hadn’t canceled school and Paul sat there with a wry smile on his face.  I asked what was up and he said, “Well, I know why they didn’t cancel.  Last night, I prayed that they wouldn’t!”  I thought his brothers would pummel him.

How’s the weather in the Great Southwest?

Love,

Grace

Post Thanksgiving Reflection (Never Satisfied)

Dear Grace,

I think we ought to keep a tally of how many people unwittingly call you a grandmother. How is that even possible?

The aftermath of Thanksgiving has been unusually satisfying. It was our first at Dutchman House and although I missed going to Hometown to be with Mumsie and Pops and having our usual pit turkey and recklessly participating in the Hometown Turkey Trot, it was lovely having our first big holiday at home.

Jake & Cara (the brother and sister-in-law who can) came and stayed for a couple of days and at first I was anxious about Dutchman House’s lack of decorations and the fact that Cara always looks perfect, but honestly everything went great. And now I’m anxious about the fact that everything went without a hitch that maybe I was blind to the hitches . . . But honestly, we had a full turkey and a spiral ham and my homemade rolls (I’ll put the recipe below) and mashed potatoes and three pies and Cara made these green beans that were like crack and it was all amazing. Something should have gone wrong. The turkey should have been too dry or the rolls should have burned, but no, nothing went wrong. We even all went to the movies after dinner and Chloe the world’s most dramatic three-year-old only disturbed the people around us by being too excited about the monsters in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Why did nothing go wrong? Now I am nervous that the perfection of Thanksgiving means Christmas at Dutchman House with Abe’s family will be a disaster.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Love Always,

Millie

Crescent Rolls

  • 2 potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. butter (softened)
  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, and mash.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. When yeast is ready, mix in 1 cup mashed potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, and 3 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough has become stiff but still pliable. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to 5 days.
  4. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and form into rounds. Roll out each round to a 12 inch circle. Brush generously with melted butter, and cut each circle into 16 wedges. Roll wedges up tightly, starting with the large end. Place on lightly greased baking sheets with the points underneath, and the ends bent to form a crescent shape. Cover, and let rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Our Halloween (Because I Am Avoiding Thinking About the Election)

Dear Millie,

Abe’s leg is worrisome!  I hope they can figure out what’s going on.  Maybe he just needs a vacation to the Midwest?  You know it’s hunting season and if nothing else, it’d soothe his soul!

How did your meeting with the head honchos go?  You should have your students decorate your classroom.  In high school choir, we were divided up in groups and given different color posterboard and had to come up with something to put on them–inspirational quotes, pictures, etc.  It was a lot of fun and it turned out great!  There’s the time I decided we needed to decorate the dilapidated music classroom I had…that’s a fun story for another time!  It was me doing it though, so we can just skip to the end and know that it was a disaster.  😉

Did you know there’s such a thing as Election Cake?  And that the elections used to include a lot more food, parties, bonfires, etc.?  I think that needs to happen.  If only for the food!  Ha ha!  Danelle over at Let’s Dish Recipes posted a recipe for Old Fashioned Election Cake and included a little history of it.  Fun!

Other election-type fun: when the kids had some friends over and they put together this White House Cookie Kit from Trader Joe’s!

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I know it looks like I put it together.  The kids come by their talent naturally!  🙂  Shout out to the faboo missionary (you know who you are!) who picked this up for us.  That was a great time!

The boys had Thursday and Friday off from school before Halloween, so their classroom “Fall Celebrations” were held on Wednesday.  Kyle had decided to be Link from The Legend of Zelda.  One of our nephews had dressed up as Link a few years ago, so I tried to get our sister to send me the costume she’d made for him.  No dice.  “It’s so easy!  Just sew this and this and two triangles for the hat and add a belt and bam!”  My sewing skills are exactly nada.  Amazon to the rescue!  We ordered the week before the class party, and it said it’d be here Tuesday.  Perfect!

Tuesday came and no package.  I checked the account and YAY the package was on its way!

costume-order-fail

What.  “On time,” it says.  The day AFTER the party!  Lame.  I didn’t know what to tell Kyle, so I employed Step 2 of your recommended steps to dealing with unfortunate situations and waited for Gordon to break the news.  He was late coming home because he was attending a Gamer Club thingie for Workplace.  They gave out free t-shirts and he came home with a red one with bright neon green lettering all over the front.  I told him about the costume situation and he approached Kyle, who was understandably disappointed, and then Gordon said, “But look!  You could go as a gamer!”  The shirt was pretty ghastly and I tried to smile encouragingly as I said, “That’d be cool!”  Kyle snatched the shirt and said that’d be the best thing ever!  If I’d known I could’ve gotten away with a free t-shirt for a costume, well…things might’ve been cheaper!

Paul and Truman really, really wanted to be their Mii characters.  I was so stressed about how to make that happen.  They both happened to need pants, so I was out shopping, and whaddya know, they had pants in the exact same color as their Mii characters!  I realized that I had a long-sleeve black shirt in Truman’s size that I bought last year for super cheap.  I went looking for a blue one in Paul’s size, and they had one for $2!  I couldn’t figure out how to get their Mii faces from the Nintendo to the computer to the printer, so that’s where Gordon’s genius came in.  I don’t know what he did, but anyway, we just printed out the faces on card stock.  Brilliant!  I cut out the eye holes with my eyebrow razor because I’m so crafty with tools and everything.  😉

TrumanPaul

I’m also really good at getting pictures set up nicely on here.  Ha!  But isn’t that fun?  They had a Halloween thing at a senior care center on Saturday, and we just used duct tape to keep the cutouts on their faces.  Ha!  On Halloween, I used yarn to tie them around their heads so they could pull them up while wandering around and then back on their faces when approaching a door.  I have yarn!  And I used it to craft a Halloween costume!

People are awesome.  Besides the general feel-goodness of Halloween and people doing such nice things for children, two specific examples:

  1. The senior care center was such a fun experience.  The residents were just delighted to see all the children come in and the kids were so cute relishing the attention.
  2. The first house we went to for trick-or-treating didn’t have candy.  The guy’s fiancée pulled in just as we were heading out.  They’d miscommunicated who was supposed to pick it up (he’d also pulled in a minute or two before we showed up) and they felt so bad!  We laughed and wished them a good night, then went on our merry way.  We’d been going about a half hour and the fiancee’s car came around a corner from a few streets over and drove right up to us.  They’d obviously been driving around trying to track us down.  The guy jumped out of the car and had the kids take handfuls of candy!  He apologized for having not been ready when we came by, and we parents just stood there getting teary-eyed.

We got probably five trick-or-treaters, which is probably five more than last year.  Gordon let the kids who came take handfuls of candy.  I don’t think he was too disappointed to have a giant bowlful leftover.  The girls too.  Vanessa fell in some mud just after we’d run back into the couple from the first house and she was not going to knock on a single door with mud on her Doc McStuffins costume (thank you to friends with massive dress-up bins!), and thusly had much fewer pieces of candy (not even half!) than the boys.  Lucy was having none of this dressing up business, so she stayed home and ate candy with Gordon.

I told you about the butternut squash quandary…lots of squash and not knowing what to do with it?  I made something the kids even LIKED last night!  We don’t have a Trader Joe’s close by, so I can’t say whether this copycat version of their Harvest Pasta Sauce is close, but it IS good!  Check it out at melskitchencafe.com.  We added a little salt and pepper to our individual liking and of course added parmesan.  I even forgot to set the pressure cooker seal on, so it was halfway through cooking while the vent was open when I realized.  It was nearly 8:00 as it was and I thought it’d probably end up being a cold cereal night.  I reset the seal and turned it on for half the cook time, and it still turned out great!  Thank goodness for forgiving recipes.  Kyle said he wished he could eat eight plates of it, so there’s a pretty good endorsement.  The kids thought it was just an oranger (is that a word?  It should be!) pasta sauce, and never caught on that the flavors included butternut squash and pumpkin.  Win!

You should send me your pizza dough recipe!  What kind of pizza did you end up making last night?  I was surprised to hear Abe is such a pizza lover.  I guess I just don’t picture him enjoying a margherita pizza (and maybe he doesn’t!  Maybe he just likes it piled high with meat!).  At any rate, I’d love your recipe!

Love,

Grace

Fall Fest Failures and Linky-loos

Dear Millie,

Happy Halloween!  I feel like we haven’t talked in ages!  I miss you terribly, but it also means I don’t have any new recipe recommendations from you and that’s pretty much a tragedy right there.

Also tragic is our ward’s failure to have a proper fall festival/harvest social/what-have-you.  When we first moved here, that was a highlight for us!  Our last ward didn’t do one (although we did have tailgate parties before high school football games and since the church was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the high school, we’d all walk over for the game.  That was pretty awesome!  One of those times included Claude telling me he could’ve been a pro athlete), and the one here reminded me of all the fun times we had at Hometown’s annual harvest social.

Part of the problem may be that the Elders Quorum put it on the last time and had a potato peeling contest.  Gordon forbid me from competing (and he was in the presidency!) even though we all know I would’ve won.  He correctly predicted potato peeler-induced injuries.  They weren’t tooooo bad…nothing life-threatening or anything.  And anyway, that just means people were having a good time!

The other awesome thing about the last fall festival was the dunk tank.  Paul was just a little 6yo at the time, but he was the first to nail the target and drop the Elders Quorum President in the tank!  I guess we couldn’t secure the tank again this year, and my suggestion to use the baptismal font as a dunk tank and just not tell unsuspecting unbaptized festivalers what it was wasn’t well-received.

I saw a couple of things on the interwebs recently-ish and I was so excited about them, I just have to share!  I know you’re probably scared of what I found (my last YouTube search resulted in a rabbit hole of terrible videos and culminated with a video of Japanese synchronized walking.  Truly fascinating!), but I think you’ll actually like these (and no YouTubing was involved, so there’s that).  Behold!

15 Cute Skirts from Amazon

This is a link to a blog post (from Lil’ Luna.  One of my favorites!) with the 15 cute skirts the writer found.  I love the ones with pockets!  Every outfit should have pockets.  Sweats and stirrup pants included.  I’d spring for the striped skirt, but I’m worried about my current plus-sizeness making it look like a circus tent.  Polka dots are okay, right?  Whatever, there are pockets!

amazon-skirts-11

 

Adjustable Stainless Slicer Layer Cake Slicer Kit

I’m not good at baking cakes to begin with, but I know you are, and I know perfection is your thing (certainly not mine!  HAAAAAAA.  Where did we get our perfectionist ways anyway?).  After seeing this, I feel like I can make beautiful layer cakes.  Because, you know, I just need help cutting perfect layers.  I’m completely capable of baking the actual cake (nope)!

I was hanging around another favorite food blog (Favorite Family Recipes) when I first saw the cake slicer thing.  Now I want to eat the cake they posted with the link:

twice-chocolate-torte

There may be a reason I don’t fit in my cute skirts anymore.

Love,

Grace

A Costume Here, You Will Not Get

Dear Millie,

Halloween will be here before we know it!  I figured I should get cracking on Halloween costumes.  My boys would like for me to make costumes for them so they can be their Mii characters from the Wii.  What a fun idea!  Employing my artistic talent, I sat down and drew up the precise design of what I feel is within my realm of sewing capability.  This looks like Kyle’s Mii character, right?

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Vanessa doesn’t think so.  Why not?  “Because it just has holes in it.”  Bah.  Back to the drawing board!  I scribbled down some notes for improvement:

*Purchase Halloween costumes from Goodwill

*Pick up a frosty at Wendy’s

Pretty good list, I’d say!

I got an email from a local store recently advertising “This Halloween’s best costumes at the lowest prices!”  Well!  While I’m not happy about forking out money for what usually look like terrible pajamas, I figured I could at least take a look.  To my delight, this Halloween’s best costumes look less like pajamas and more like actual costumes!  My boys love Star Wars, so my first pick was this $40 ensemble:

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-9-18-16-am

 

Hmmm.  Not crazy about the price, but maybe that includes the lightsaber?  Then I saw it.  This might be a problem:

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-9-18-16-am

What the?  “Includes: Robe.”  At this point, I’m not even sure I’d be getting a Jedi robe.  Maybe a fuzzy bathrobe?  It doesn’t specify, but at least they’re clear I won’t be getting a costume with my Jedi costume purchase.

Time for some Goodwill hunting!  Hope your Halloween preparations include candy corns and The Skeleton Dance!

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Any ideas for my girls?  Vanessa would like to be Princess Aurora, but this is what she’d get:

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P.P.S.  Don’t forget to make Spooky Eyeball Tacos this month!  Tradition!

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(picture and recipe from kraftrecipes.com)