Cucumber Crap & Chicken Pies

Dear Grace,

Lucy! What a little mischief-maker! But she is just so cute, how can you even get mad at her?

I am sure I mention this frequently, but Abe and I are trying to get healthier. I think we would be doing better if I found any joy whatsoever from cooking healthy food. One week we ate nothing but chicken and rice. I wanted to die. Then I baked some cookies and all was right with the world. Then I gained back the five pounds I had lost. I am in a constant battle with the same five pounds. Go me!

The other day, Abe brought home some exotic healthy juices that sneak vegetables into the concoction. This particular brand was “It Tastes Raaw” and Abe selected the pineapple cucumber variety. I was doing things around the house when Abe called me to the living room to try this amazing juice. It smelled like cucumbers and dirty socks and tasted worse. It certainly did taste raaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwrrrrrr. We immediately threw both bottles away.

That weekend, Netflix acquired two new seasons of my favorite show: The Great British Bake Off. Abe and I spent our weekend watching delightfully polite British people bake amazing breads and pastries. Naturally I was inspired, and decided (at Abe’s request) to try a chicken pie recipe and make puff pastry from scratch. Despite my poor photography and amateur baking skills, they turned out AMAZING. I was just tickled with myself. The pastry had this amazing flakiness and it was just so darn delicious. All that butter just made a world of difference between these and an American chicken pot pie. Hearing the sound of the pastry flaking was even more enjoyable than eating them. I used this Mini Creamy and Cheesy Chicken Pie recipe from The Flavor Blender, and I also used her puff pastry recipe. 






The recipe took some time to make (mainly because of the pastry), and I wish I had a larger dough cutter (mine is about 2″ in diameter), but they were amazing nevertheless. I will probably make them again, but will most likely keep them as a special occasion food.

It all boils down to this: Healthy food is terrible and butter makes everything better.

Love Always,


Hate Crimes

Dear Millie,

Of course you bought the best candy!  Will no one else think of the children?

Your mailbox stalker is most perplexing.  Have you even met your mailman?  How would he know of your love for Billy Bard?  Are you certain it wasn’t Abe?  That’d be a sweet thing for him to do.  But if it’s not him, I’m not sure if I’d be delighted, befuddled, amused, or genuinely freaked out.  At any rate, perhaps you can save the book for your children who (dare I even suggest) may be born without the ability to read?  Never mind, never mind, I take it back!  Of course YOUR children will be born reading (and quoting!) Shakespeare.  Maybe donate the book to a poor soul whose child isn’t born sonneting?

My fantastically mulleted Lucy reminds me of Boo on Monsters, Inc.  She can talk a bit and she gallops and hops and jumps around laughing and giggling, and her bobbing, curled mullet just delights to no end.  Recently, she was in the kitchen playing.  I’m not sure why we needed to keep it quiet, but she was being a crouched little ball while holding a finger to her smiling lips and whispering, “Shhhhh, shhhhh,” (her little “shhh” sounds more like a little happy hiss).  Then she’d explode into an open-armed X-shape while yelling, “YAY!!!”  She’d quickly crouch back down and do it over and over and I couldn’t even ask her to stop.

Lucy loves to race.  She ropes her siblings and Gordon (and random visitors) into racing with her all the time.  They start at a door or a wall and run across the room or around the staircase and back to the starting point or whatever she chooses.  “Way, seh, doh!”  The best part is that winning doesn’t matter.  All the participants getting to the goal or performing their part is what matters.

Election Night, we had patriotic waffles.  Let’s pretend they looked like these:

Ours were rectangular though.  And cut up for the kids.  Okay fine, they looked more, ahhh, mutilated with vague referential Americana coloring.  We felt very patriotic at any rate, especially Paul who ate all his waffles plain.

One recent afternoon, the boys were talking about how peaceful our country is and how we don’t have to worry about crime or war here in the US.  I hated to burst their bubble, but I told them that just because we don’t see it, the problems are still there…even in our wonderful community.  At some point, I said something about ‘gangs with violence’ and 1st-grader Truman was completely baffled.  I tried to explain in other terms and he started asking weird questions about double basses and violas.  It turned out he thought I’d said, “Gangs with violins.”  HA!  Imagine people showing up and angrily playing Mahler at you!  Incessant playing of Pachelbel’s Canon in D would be considered a hate crime!

This is completely off topic (I hear you saying, “What was the topic?”), but thank you so much for categorizing our letters!  I couldn’t come up with tags to begin with.

Me trying to tag things: “Uhhhh…’blog’.  ‘Blog…POST?'”

By the way, I was tickled to see that people had found our letters and was surprised when someone commented (though I guess not really, because we did leave this open to the public and also left the comments open).  Then I saw that most of our views were from Russia, and the comments were spam.  We’ve gotten some in French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, and English.  We’ve attracted spam bots worldwide!  Nonetheless, somebotty (*chortle*) has certainly found our letters to be helpful: “This piece was a lifejacket that saved me from drowning.”

I don’t think I’ve ever shared one of our favorite dinner recipes with you.  So, SO easy and it’s scrumptious!  It’s Slow Cooker Chicken and Gravy at The Magical Slow Cooker.  I first saw it at Real Mom Kitchen, who had adjusted the amount of water and has pepper to taste instead of measured out.  Either way, you need this on your menu this very week!  Perfect for Sundays and/or busy nights.  We had it for dinner last night and after I went out to do a visit, I came back home and had seconds (and you know I’m not fond of leftovers!).  We usually have it over mashed potatoes the first night and if there are leftovers (not very often), we have it over rice with cheese and pineapple and/or whatever else we have lying around (green onions, olives, etc.).  I’ve also added a can of green chiles to the leftovers and we had that over rice with cheese.  And possibly sour cream.  I think that’d work for burritos–the chile in the leftovers, I mean–if you use the lesser water amount and do 2lbs. of chicken instead of 1lb.  Or just have it over mashed potatoes again because we’ve also done that and loved it a second night in a row.  Anyway!  There’s your lifejacket for the day.  🙂

Lots o’ love,


Stars for Everyone (but Mostly for Me)

Dearest Sister Millie,

I love broccoli!  I love cheese!  And I love broccoli cheese soup!  I’m not sure I’ve ever had Mumsie’s (where was I??  Sometimes I wonder if we had different childhoods.  And parents.), but I remember when she first started making that broccoli cheese concoction for smothering baked potatoes.  Mmmmm.  Maybe it’s one and the same?  At any rate, I’m going to have to make it!

Guess what I did today?  I polished acorns!  A friend of mine invited me out to her adorable farmhouse for lunch.  Last time she had us over (I had Vanessa and Lucy with me), she made us pierogi.  They were filled with mashed potatoes!  I’d never even heard of them.  Anyway, after lunch today, the girls all played while we chatted at the table and cleaned acorns.  We’ll be painting them at a Relief Society activity next Tuesday.  Isn’t that fun?  If I didn’t already have commitments, I’d be going to hunt mushrooms with her tomorrow.  Hunt for mushrooms!  I love this place.  When I left, she handed me a jar of pure maple syrup tapped from the family’s trees (pure maple syrup is amazing!).  She also gave me a carton of fresh eggs from her chickens.  I love her!

She texted me later that she had found a huge bag of mushrooms today.  Of course it reminded me of something I’d eaten and so I sent her a recipe I love–portobello mushroom lasagna.  It is so, so good!  I can’t say my whole family was crazy about it because they aren’t all crazy about mushrooms.  But I am, and in case you are (except I’m thinking you’re not?), here’s a link to the recipe!  Ina Garten.  You’re welcome.  Although I do have to say that I used maybe 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg instead of a full teaspoon.  And I added more cheese–maybe 1/2 cup?  And I can’t promise they were portobello mushrooms either.  They were whatever I couldn’t pass up buying at the store (I am ashamed to admit that I don’t know what kind the ones are that come in the packages that go on super sale and I go mushroom crazy for a bit!  Do you know?).  Anyway, if you like mushrooms, you’ll like this!  If not, sorry.  I’ll send you a recipe for something you like.  Maybe Abe would like mushrooms since they aren’t green?  Or if you add enough cheese?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Neato!  It’s the best pet I’ve ever had.  I did like our Roomba, but it has given up the ghost and joined the choir invisible.

I can’t believe Abe has three months to go!  At LEAST?!  That’s nuts.  You might need to take on a second job to support his online shopping.  Ha ha!  One sure cure for cabin fever is to leave the cabin and come and see meeeeeee!  I will start stocking up on apple juice.

I happened to be in Walmart a few weeks ago with my nearly-four-year-old daughter, Vanessa. I can’t even recall why I didn’t have the other four children with me, but anyway, there we were. She was sitting in the cart and we walked in and noticed that what used to be a mini arcade had been turned into a portrait studio. Now, you may recall that my last experience with a portrait studio happened on my second son Paul’s birthday. I had taken to having my children’s pictures taken on the occasion of their respective birthdays. I had made an appointment in advance and the day before his birthday, I received a phone call confirming the appointment. The day of, the birthday boy was dressed and ready to go out. I quickly checked my email and a confirmation message had arrived early that morning. We headed out the door and when we arrived, the lights in the studio were off and there was a sign:






You can imagine my delight when I realized I could restart my birthday tradition and have my nearly-four-year-old’s picture taken on her birthday the next week! I rushed over to make an appointment. The multi-color(ed?)-hair(ed?) girl at the register was friendly enough and as we talked, I decided that no, the school would be taking pictures soon and I would prefer to have all the portraits on my piano match. But! I COULD have the children take a picture together! The five little darlings! My heart was a-flutter as I pictured a massive portrait of my sweet earth angels hanging above the mantle where all could see. The girl at the register needed all their names and respective birthdays. As she typed, I noticed a beautifully scripted tattoo on her arm. It should’ve raised a red flag when I realized what it said: Disaster.

I chirped each of the children’s names and birthdates. At the bottom of the digital form she was filling out, there was one last question. “Your relationship to these kids…grandmother, I’m guessing?”



I laughed. It might have been a little more like a “Ha!” blast than a laugh. The girl gasped, her eyebrows shot up and eyes widened. Vanessa crinkled her nose and shook her head (and probably also rolled her eyes—she’s famous for that). The girl started gesturing heavily while she stuttered out an apology. All was made well again and I wondered whether I should detour my planned shopping route and swing on by the night cream aisle. She told me she’d get an appointment card and quickly scribbled out the date and time on a post-it note. She handed the very formal appointment card to me, and we were on our merry way.

I’m going to have to pause this story because it’s late. But not before I share one more thing from that evening.

Not twenty minutes after I had been asked if I was my children’s grandma, I ran into a dear friend. It is Walmart, after all! We chatted and her son swung around from behind her and said, “Hi!” I greeted him and he put his hand right on my belly and asked, “When are you ever going to have this baby?” His mom turned red and shushed him as I laughed and said that I wasn’t expecting a baby any time soon, but that I should probably cut back on the baked goods!

Pregnant grandma. It was a gold star day!