Casserole, anyone?

I think I fail in the casserole department. I don't think I have any recipes for a stand-alone casserole. I have a couple of casserole-type dishes that I make, but they require rice or some other accompanying food to make a complete entree. My husband, on the other hand, is the casserole king.

Since we switched to 1:00 church, and I have choir afterwards, Tom has taken it on himself to make dinner on Sundays, for which I am excessively grateful. A couple of weeks ago I came home to a rice-refried bean casserole, last week it was a pasta-meatloaf casserole. He doesn't use recipes, he just takes whatever we have in the fridge and puts it together with a little of this and a little of that. And it tastes great! Part of that may be due to the fact that I didn't have to make it, but his casseroles truly are delicious in their own right.

This is a skill I need to develop. I can cook as long as I have a recipe, or at least a detailed idea from someone else, but beyond that, I'm lost.

Any recipes for yummy (or mediocre) casseroles?


We Thank Thee, Oh God, For a Prophet

With the the passing of our dear prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, I want to say a few words about what he meant to me.

Called of God in 1995 to lead this church, President Hinckley has served as the Prophet for the majority of my life. He is my prophet. His words have touched, inspired and lifted me. He has helped me to become a better person, daughter, sister, wife and mother.

His impact has been felt in more than just my life. His words and actions have left an incredible impact on people the world over.

I want to share one of my favorite hymns, the words of which were written by President Hinkley:

I know that my Redeemer lives,
Triumphant Savior, Son of God,
Victorious over pain and death,
My King, my Leader, and my Lord.

He lives, my one sure rock of faith,
The one bright hope of men on earth,
The beacon to a better way,
The light beyond the veil of death.

Oh, give me thy sweet Spirit still,
The peace that comes alone from thee,
The faith to walk the lonely road
That leads to thine eternity.

While I mourn his passing, I know where he is, and rejoice that he is with his sweet wife again. I have faith that this life is not that end, and that through the gospel, we can all be with our loved ones again.

I count myself as lucky to have lived during his time as prophet, and pray that, like him, I can stand a little taller.


Flower, Purdy Flower

When it comes to plants, I am a total nerd. Not only do I name them, but I have been known to talk to them, sing to them, and even draw them pictures. Yes, it's true. But, I would like it to be known that this insanity on my part does produce results.

The African violet is named Lisa. I've had her for almost two and a half years, and this is the third or fourth time that she has bloomed.

The rose, Tom brought home from work two days after it was given to him. The head was drooping, the petals wilting. I resurrected it.

The third is a zygocactus named Estella. (I sometimes wish I named Ella that, because I can't have an Ella and and Estella.) I inherited her with the house. A couple weeks ago she had 15-20 of these beautiful flowers all over.

So, even though you may make fun of me, I will continue to name, and converse with, my beautiful plants.


Fashionably Late

I am a meticulous budget-er. I keep track of every penny I spend (okay, I don't actually count loose change.) I have all of my bills on auto-pay so that I never miss a payment, but I never would anyway. Actually, make that all but one. My visa, which I hardly ever use, I pay online. I wait to receive the statement, then transfer funds from my checking account.

I realized the other day that I had not gotten my visa statement, and it usually comes by now. Today, I checked online, and not only had I missed the due date (the 17th), but they had charged me $19.00 as a late fee. Um, hello? I have never missed a payment and have had the card since high school. The balance was like $65.

I guess I don't know what standard late fees are, but that seemed a little exorbitant to me. So I called. And called. And called. Each time I would make it through their little automated system, I would get a message telling me that they were experiencing unusually high wait times and would be unable to service my call. Thanks.

Finally I got through to someone who reversed the charge and offered to send me paperwork to set up auto-pay. That's what I'm talking about. If they hadn't reversed it, I probably would have canceled the card and changed banks. Luckily, I don't have to go through that.


Martin Luther Clean Day

Yesterday Tom had the day off, and we spent the day relaxing and thinking about making the world a better place... or not.

Our house has a unique smell. It's not terrible, and once you've been in the house for two minutes you don't notice it, but it does smell. One of our ideas to eliminate or at least diminish the smell was to clean out behind the appliances in the kitchen, but so far we hadn't gotten around to it. So yesterday after breakfast, I volunteered to clean out behind the fridge. Tom played with the kids, and I pulled out the fridge.

The floor itself was not bad at all. Dusty, yes, but there was only one receipt and one raisin among the dust. I was reminded of one time when I lived at Liberty Square, and I cleaned out under the fridge--I'm pretty sure someone had spilled an entire Costco jug of syrup three years prior. It was nasty, so yesterday I thought I was doing well.

Not so quick. As I was wiping down the back (which was pretty grimy) I noticed that the panel at the bottom was caked with nasty black dust.

I had the brilliant idea to pull it off and clean out the dust. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

An hour and a half and half of a roll of paper towels later, (I was not going to use a real rag on this) I gave up. There was thick nasty dust covering everything. There were balls of pet hair that was laden with the same thick nasty dust in every nook and cranny (of which there are many). The once-yellow insulating pads were brown and growing things.

I screwed the panel back on and put the fridge back. Unfortunately, since I stirred up all that dust, the fan is now blowing it out and we've had to wipe off the top of our fridge several times.

I can only hope that once it settles it will help with the smell, because I'm sure it was contributing.

In cleaning that out, it also left a nice film of black dust over most the kitchen, so I got to wipe that down too. While I was doing that, Ella decided to help. She got her little mermaid bucket and a rag and sat down and started wiping the floor. Then she started sing "Sing sweet nightingale hiiiiigh above me." It was basically adorable.

One Fine Day

Tom and I watched this movie Saturday night. It's a cute one. I had seen it before (a long time ago) but had forgotten how funny it was. For those of you who haven't seen it, the little boy has a thing with sticking things up his nose.

Sunday night at dinner we were having rice. Halfway through dinner Ella says, "have rice up my nose." At first I thought she was joking, but then she tried to shove some more up there. Tom and I just started laughing. Lest you worry, we did get it out without incident, and she hasn't tried since.


Funny Ella

Ella likes to sing. She hears a song once or twice and next thing I know she's singing it constantly.

Over the Christmas holiday (and still) her favorites to sing were Angels we have heard on high (mostly the Gloria part over and over at the top of her lungs) and Stars were Gleaming (from the primary song book) The best part about that song is there is a line that says "and the night was dark and chill." The next verse talked about the wise men, but Ella got them mixed up and sings "The wise man was dark and chill." But even that somehow changed to "Fresh and Chill." It's pretty dang cute if I do say so myself.

The other song that she sings all the time is the Little mermaid melody that is all Ah's. A little hard to write, but hilarious when she sings it over and over at the top of her lungs. She usually lays in bed for a while before falling asleep whether it's naptime or bedtime, and she sings to herself. I wish I had a video monitor.


My Little Buddy

December was quite the eventful month for Rico. He had his 9 month (okay, 10 month) checkup on the fourth and the doctor said that he had some fluid in his ears, but they weren't infected. On the seventeenth, you may remember that I wrote how cranky he was for no apparent reason. At least it wasn't apparent until dinner time when he kept pulling at his ears.

The next day (Wednesday) was the only day that my family was going to be all together and we were going to have family pictures taken, etc., so it was not a good day to be feeling bad. In the morning we took him to the doctor, and he had two bad ear infections. He was pretty happy that day, despite everything, and we got him on the amoxicillin promptly.

Two days later (Friday), his fever (which had been a mild 99.8) shot up to 102.2, so I called the doctor. He changed his prescription to Cefdinir, and we started him on that. By Sunday his fever was gone, but he had a fine pink rash all over his body. I called the doctor again, and the oncall doctor said he should be fine as long as the rash was mild, and to keep giving him the antibiotics. I should have gone with my gut feeling on this one, because by the next day (Christmas Eve) he was more red than white and quite miserable.

I called the doctor AGAIN, and he said the stop the antibiotic and get him on Benadryl and after his rash cleared up, they'd prescribe something else. Poor little guy had more drugs in him than a pharmacy.

Wednesday his rash was mostly cleared up, except on his legs, so I took him in to the doctor--I'd had enough advice over the phone. His doctor was not in, so we saw someone else. She said his ears were still mildly infected, but he could likely fight it off on his own (thank goodness!), but to give a call if he seemed to be getting worse.

Thankfully, he seems to be fully better (finally). His rash cleared up and though still a little clingy (only to me) he is much more himself than he has been all month! Hallelujah!

In other news, I finally cut his hair on Friday. He's been needing a hair cut for a while, especially over his ears and his bangs (I guess you would call it that.) Anyway, he was taking a bath while Ella was napping, and I thought "Now would be the perfect time to cut his hair," so I did. He was mostly cooperative, though a little wiggly. My only complaint is that I was hoping that once it was shorter it would stand up again, but no such luck, once it dried it laid back down. I'll get a picture of it dried.



I have been such a slacker recently. Tom has been home for the last two weeks, today was his first day back, and I have been enjoying it! It was a shock to the system to be plunged back into real life today. Christmas was wonderful, and so was New Year's. We spent lots of time with both my family and his this holiday season. It was especially fun to have Sarah and her family in town. I do miss Jon already, though. He is in the MTC for one more week, then it's off to Virginia.

Today I finally surrendered in my battle against my oven. I hate my oven. I have always had self-cleaning ovens, and only NOW do I appreciate that fully. I no longer have a self-cleaning oven. I finally bought oven cleaner today and cleaned it out, and let me tell you, it needed it! But this is not the only reason that I hate my oven. It only has one large burner. (Okay, that's the stove, but it's the same appliance.) It has three small ones. What am I going to do with THREE little burners?! I mean seriously. I thought two and two was standard, but apparently I'm wrong. Then, I can't pull the elements out to clean out under them. I have to tilt them up, then try to shimmy my hand through the tiny hole to wipe out the gunk. Along with neglecting the oven, I have been neglecting the drips and such under the cook top, in hopes that I might just get a new oven, but seeing as that's not so likely, I finally gave up and cleaned those too.

That's all for today.