Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feedback Required

We bought a Kitchenaid mixer earlier this month and I was so excited to use it to start baking my very own whole-wheat bread. We eat Harper's Homemade Honey Wheat bread and it is soooo good. It's nice and heavy and has a homemade taste and feel. Unfortunately, this is the only thing I can find about it on google, and I don't think that's right since the packaging lists an Idaho address. But I digress...

Josh and I (mostly Josh) consume about two loaves of bread per week, so in order to avoid repeated trips to the grocery store every week, I buy 6-8 loaves at a time and just freeze them. We started wondering a couple months ago if it would be cheaper to start baking our own bread instead, and we decided to go for it. Thus, the purchase of the Kitchenaid, which is something I've wanted for a long time anyway, and we also bought the grain mill attachment to go with it. However, we heard from many people that even with the 475-watt motor our mixer has, grinding wheat may tax it too strongly, so Josh bought a Nutrimill grain mill to grind our wheat instead.

All of that is fine and well, except now our quest to make cheap homemade bread has cost us more than $500. We'll consider it a good investment, though, if we find the perfect appliance combination and I become a successful bread-maker. And we haven't used either wheat grinder yet so we can return one, so tell me...what's your take? Which would you keep and why? What have you heard about the Kitchenaid attachment, or Nutrimill, or both?

In the meantime, I bought some wheat flour from the store so I could at least start practicing the actual bread baking. And that leads me to my next question...what bread recipe is the best? We'd like to find something similar to or better than the Harper's bread we eat right now. The ingredient list for that bread is: 100% Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Honey, Soybean Oil, Salt, Yeast. That's it. The bread bag obviously doesn't list quantities, so I looked around online for a recipe and found this one, which I'm going to try out tomorrow; that is, unless all y'all have THE PERFECT bread recipe to share with me.

So let's have it - recommendations for grain mills and wheat bread recipes - I'm open to all feedback and suggestions. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am Prideful

*This post is long and I wonder if it shares too much with those in my ward that read this blog, but because this is my journal and it's a lesson I needed to re-learn, I am going to leave it.*

I realized it again last night. And I have the worst kind. This is why...

I got a call yesterday afternoon from someone in the ward asking if I could take a meal to a family where the mother just had surgery. Sure, no problem. I had never met these people and thought it'd be a good opportunity to do so. So I loaded up Grayson last night and we headed out through the snow to the address I was given. My heart sank when we drove into the circle of the overbuilt, brand-new homes in our ward boundaries, and I found myself getting quite annoyed that here I was - basically a single mother during this and last week while Josh worked from 7am-9pm every day (including Saturday and Sunday), taking quite a bit of time out of my VERY busy week trying to get all holiday-related things accomplished before we leave town Wednesday - taking dinner to a family that seemed to have so much more than we do. The husband opened the door to a room filled with beautiful furniture and a tv that nearly consumed the entire wall of their immaculate home, and I wanted to know why I, the woman whose family lives on as little as possible in order to save all extra money for the 'house fund', had prepared a dinner for these people that didn't seem to need it.

I was so frustrated I didn't bother to ask their names or engage their little boy in conversation. I just dropped the meal off and said I'd return later for the pan. Then I left. Even worse, I saw the mom come walking into the room through a window while I drove away and I
recognized her. She's very stylish and always dressed to the nines, and has a son to match just a few months younger than Grayson. As I drove home I stewed about how she probably gets to take her baby to Relief Society every Sunday while I pass mine off to anyone available so I can go to Primary. I pulled into our still snow-covered driveway and sighed as I realized the husband had probably snow-blowed their driveway and walks while I was cooking for his family only to have to shovel my own drive when I got home or wait for Josh to do it later that night when he was finally done working.

I could see I was on a pretty bad downward spiral and it felt completely opposite to this, which is what I preferred, so I asked God to please help me feel the spirit of the Christmas season instead of all my bitterness. Because God is so nice to me even though I'm not always nice to His other children, He made me remember something I had heard once about pride looking up instead of down. A quick search led me right to the source:

"Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. (See 2 Ne. 9:42.) There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous."
President Ezra Taft Benson
, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4

Jealousy a form of pride? Guilty as charged. I contemplated ways to eliminate (or at the very least, lessen) my jealousy, and in the end decided to make a list of 50 things I've been blessed with that I am grateful for, regardless if others have them or not.

It worked. In making that list I realized how much God does love me and my little family. Josh and I have wanted for nothing since we married, and we're able to save a substantial amount of money every month, putting us in a better financial position than many find themselves right now. Grayson has everything he needs, as do we. Our time to own a home will come soon enough, and in the meantime we've been very lucky with the homes we've rented and the areas in which we've lived. Josh's job is secure - a luxury in the present economic circumstances for many - and it allows me to stay home with our son. We've been able to put a lot of resources into preparing for our future needs because we've been so blessed with our present ones.
Life is so much better when you forget to compare yourself to others. Hey, typing that line just made me think of a line in a poem I read long along and loved enough that I pasted a copy into my scriptures:
"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans."
-Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Good idea, Mr. Ehrmann. I'll keep that in mind.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Favorite things

Even though I hate the snow, I LOVE the clothes wintertime brings with it. Requiring beanies, pea coats, and turtlenecks is pretty much winter's only redeeming quality. Pair it with my sweet baby boy and I'm in heaven!Toss in a Daddy, and my heart just melts.I'm secretly pleased to report that Grayson hates the snow as much as I do.All right...in real life he was just mad that I put him down, but he did get curious when I showed him the snow and let him touch it. He didn't even seem to mind how cold it was! For those who haven't guessed yet, Maryann was sweet enough to come over this morning and take some pictures for me to send out in holiday cards this year. Unfortunately for me, Josh's head is too little to look really great in a hat, so I'm sending out this one even though my head is so crooked and Grayson and I look like twins. Hey, beggars can't be choosers!And I'm posting this picture strictly because I love the look on Grayson's face.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is it Christmas already?

Sure seems like it around here right now! For example, what happens when a good amount of snow finally falls?My husband gets all giddy about being able to use the snowblower he bought for 50 bucks off KSL in the middle of summer.And suddenly work seems like play for the neighborhood children:Josh and the snowblower in action!

This is as country as we'll ever get!

It's too bad because we really liked dancing with those pitchforks!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The latest on Mormons

I originally wrote this post on December 10, but when I went to reference it today, I couldn't find it. I guess it's because I never finished uploading the pictures and posted it. Silly me!

This is the final installment of my 'latest' trilogy. It's "The latest on Mormons" because there's been so much happening spiritually with the holiday season.
On Grayson's 10-month birthday we went to a live Nativity the singles ward in our stake put on. It was so beautiful and Grayson loved it! He 'oohs' now when he sees something fascinating, and he did it throughout the presentation.Our ward had its Christmas party on December 5 and Grayson and I went to it with our neighbors, Bill and Kit, since Josh was traveling to southern Utah to work.
The food and company was wonderful, but the best part was that all the Primary kids got to act out parts of the nativity in a Christmas program. My kids were the sheep, and they did such a good job! We made our costumes in class the Sunday before and they turned out so cute. Once again I couldn't tell who was more pleased with the kids, me or their parents.
My sheep (sans Annie)Action!
I secretly loved that there was no Santa Claus at the party. The focus was entirely on the program and it really brought to light the true reason for this holiday season. However, this does mean that Grayson still has not met Santa so there is no picture of them together. I guess I'll settle for a picture of Gray with his zombie-eyed mommy instead.December 6 was our tithing settlement and Grayson and I went alone while Josh was at work. I reminded Josh a couple weeks ago that we were not doing Christmas this year because he already got what he wanted, so while I was in the middle of meeting with the bishop, I felt impressed to tell him we wanted to give our Christmas to a family in the ward if they needed it (don't worry, there is one present under the tree for Grayson to open on his first Christmas morning and for us to video him doing so). I can't go into too much detail about the family he told me we could help or how we chose them because some members of my ward read this blog, but just know that that was some of the most enjoyable Christmas shopping I've ever done! It took THREE attempts to successfully deliver our gifts, and we loved the excitement of every one of them. I am so grateful for a hard-working husband that's always game for whatever I plan, even if it means giving Christmas away without asking beforehand. I love my family and my life so much. What a perfect first week in December!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The latest on Family

My family had an awful lot of fun during November, but I didn't pull out the camera for any of it. Holly joined my brother in England for about five days since he was there for work and it would be years before they got another opportunity to go without the kiddies (they've another baby coming), so Hailey and Hunter stayed behind and were shuttled between Holly's mom and sisters for the week. Hailey is in kindergarten and we didn't want her to miss any school, so I got to help out with her as well. Hailey got to sleep over two different nights and Grayson and I picked her up from school one day, dropped her off again, and everything in between.

We had loads of fun while she was here.
She's a very generous little girl. We went to Wendy's for lunch one day and she was nice enough to give Grayson the toy when I wouldn't let her share the fries. And she was insistent that we make cupcakes for all the cousins she was going to see over the weekend when she left my house to go to another aunt's. So we headed to the store in search of the perfect sprinkles and we found them! She helped mix the batter and pour it into the tins, and when the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I frosted and she sprinkled. They were super yummy and tons of fun to make together. I sure do love that girl.
Cupcakes! November 13
My folks came up that same weekend for Christy and Brett's wedding and stayed with us. Grayson couldn't get enough of all the attention, lucky kid. We met Maryann and her girls at the reception and everyone came back to our house for a quick game of Golf. We went for a walk the next morning, met Maryann's family for breakfast at IHOP (my first time there - it was good, but not good enough that I'll go back), came home, went to a neighbor's boutique, then my parents left that afternoon. Poor Grayson looked so confused after having been entertained by first Hailey and then Grandma and Grandpa, it almost made me want another baby just so he'd have a permanent playmate.

My parents also came up the following weekend for the BYU/Utah game and we all got together again. We played games Friday night at Don and Holly's, but having learned our lesson the week before, Josh and I had everyone over for breakfast Saturday morning at our house instead of going out. We made waffles, cinnamon and orange rolls, OJ and scrambled eggs. Mmm mmm good! Definitely more fun and much cheaper than IHOP.

After breakfast we cleaned off the kid's table so they could draw. I gave them some paper, stickers, and markers, and soon the big game's excitement crept into their artwork:
Hailey predicted the Utes would win because according to her calculations, there were more people cheering for them than for the Y. Josh and I have the luxury of not really favoring one team over the other, but I gravitate more toward the Utes because of my brother, and Josh gravitates more toward the Y because...well, all good Mormons cheer for the Cougars, right? So we purposefully dressed Grayson in a non-partisan onesie to show our support for both teams. (Sorry Don, but sometimes sacrifices such as this must be made in order to preserve harmony in a dual-faith household.)
Sweet Memories
Don and Holly had us up to their house for Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm lamenting the fact that I once again didn't pull out the camera to capture Grayson going to town on all that turkey. Dinner was so delicious and our contribution was a fruit pie and a pan of rainbow jello, both of which were fun and fairly simple to make. Instead of doing a regular rainbow, though, I used only red, yellow, and orange to keep a 'fall' theme for Thanksgiving. I also cut my usual 12 layers down to 10 (more room in the pan for whipped cream!):I wish I'd taken a picture of the kick-ass raspberry cream pie I made to share. Oh my, it was sooo good - the perfect balance of tart and sweet, yummiest pie crust ever, and it looked all professional cut and served on individual plates. I will definitely make it again, and I already know that I'm going to up the amount of fruit I use in the topping.

The last thing I'll share with you today is the video I started taking of Grayson climbing up Don and Holly's stairs. Hunter and Hailey were playing at the top and Grayson started heading up there to join them, but his pants were falling down and making him slip, so Josh went in to pull them up. Right when he did so, Hailey tumbled down the stairs and straight into Grayson. Thankfully Josh's presence broke her fall for the most part and Gray only fell off one step. It didn't hurt him, though, and everyone was okay. Whew!

Monday, December 8, 2008

So...what's the latest?

I'm a bad Mommy. I took about six pictures of Grayson during the entire month of November. That's it. And I just shared most of them in his 10-month post. Grayson woke shortly before 4am yesterday morning to eat, and I couldn't fall asleep again once he was finished, so I spent a couple of hours finishing his 10-month post, writing this one, and catching up on everyone else. Those four hours seriously flew by!

November was a bad month to miss picture-wise. That was the month Grayson started standing by himself, both when we let go of him and when he chose to let go on his own.
He's gotten really good at balance-checking himself, and already walks all over the house while holding on to objects. No 'real' steps though! We tried taking pictures and videoing it, but as soon as we catch his eye, he's down on all fours and makes a beeline for the camera.

Grayson perfected waving and saying 'bah' (bye) when Josh leaves for work in the mornings and will do it about 75% of the time
when others leave and we prompt him. It's very cute because he waves his hand reversed so he's actually waving goodbye to himself (or beckoning others to come, depending on how you interpret it).

Grayson also started 'kissing' us regularly last month. It's so funny to watch him study our puckered lips and then see his interpretation of what we're doing. Here are his first attempts on November 2:It's absolutely disgusting but adorable at the same time. See how Josh is pulling away in the second pic? Let's just say that so far I'm the only one foolish or slow enough to catch some of Grayson's excess saliva in my mouth and on my face.

Grayson is back to teething again. I don't know why it takes so long for me to figure out what alla his extra drool and fussiness means, but by the time I do the tip of the tooth has usually broken through. Case in point - four days ago I declared, "He must be teething." I checked and voila!
there it is, his lower left lateral. Duh, Mom.

There's been a lot more going on around here, but I'll have to save it for tomorrow because I have some homework to get done before I go to my last class of the semester tonight. Yay me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

10 months!

During the last month, Grayson...
  • Grew to 19.5 pounds, 28 inches
  • Started cutting his lower laterals
  • Enjoyed his first Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie
  • Offered up his room to guests three times!
  • Learned to climb stairs
  • Stood without support
  • Decided he'd rather eat books than read them
  • Had his first taste of waffles and ice cream (don't worry Dad, it was vanilla)
  • Celebrated another wedding with us - congrats Brett & Christy!
  • Watched the Utah football team go undefeated - congrats Don!
No real pics to go along with this post because I've become very bad at pulling out the camera. It seems he's changed so much, but you would never know it based on that short list above.
November 18Go Utes! - November 22
November 25
Grayson is still wholly enthralled with the vaccuum. I've always been somewhat of a 'neat freak' but once my baby started crawling, I found myself vacuuming every other day instead of twice/week. He gets very serious when I pull out the vacuum and follows me all over the house, keeping a watchful eye on that big, noisy machine. He keeps a safe distance until it's turned off, but once it is, he's right there, checking it out, playing with the attachments, or just banging on it.
Squeals of delight: