Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Namin' Yer Baby

I've been giving a little thought to names lately. I've got friends & family expecting new babes, meeting new people, and creating accounts at work. New & interesting names have been thick on the ground.

So let's say you're looking to name something or someone. Got a few ideas about that.


10. Remember Pat? The gender ambiguous star of SNL? Steer away from those names. Pat, Chris, Tony(i), Jo(e), Sam, Dee, or Terr(i)y are pretty hard to determine over the phone if  she is a low alto or he is a high tenor. "Ma'am, could you spell that first name for me? Oh, I'm sorry SIR!"

9. Beware the big name. When your last name is Remingtonstonewell, don't burden the kid with a big ole first name like Paddington Fitzwalter. Go with Bill. Or Max. They're going to have a hard enough time, don't make it worse.

8. Don't make up a name. Like Shaniquabelle. Or Treshawton. Or Renesmee. Not only is this poor kid going to have to spell his name out for the rest of his life, anyone who hears this name will think YOU are some kind of freak.  Don't ruin a perfectly good name like Jasmine by "making it unique" spelling it in some freakish way like Jazmynn. Which leads me to my next suggestion.

7. Steer away from names like Bambi, Jazmynn, Electra, Bunnie or Trixie. Bambi ain't going to law school. Jazmynn won't be aspiring to be a doctor.  When Bunnie, Trixie & Electra graduate from high school, they will be voted "most likely to become a pole dancer."

6.  Similarly, Elmer will grow up to be a janitor. Buddy will be feeding rabbits in a pet store. Spike is all set for a lifetime career at the Seven Eleven. And Cody is doomed to a life of rodeo. Please, plan ahead for your poor child. If you want your kid to have a shot at becoming a lawyer or a doctor, you need at least two middle names here. Good ones. Like Emerson Randall or Miranda Grace.

5. You better really like your kid's name. You're going to be using it for a long time. Try yelling it out your back door 23 times before you truly decide. 'Cause that's what you're going to be doing for the next 18 years. Srsly.

4. Remember that your child will only be a child for a relatively small part of their entire life. Little girls in pigtails who go by Tiffany Crystal may feel like they have outgrown such a moniker when they are staring at the wrong side of 40. I kind of feel like just having a name like that can cause brain damage....

3. Don't name yer kid after food. Apple. Moon Pie. It's a freaking birth certificate, not a menu.

2. Strike the balance between "dime a dozen" and "what the heck were you thinking?"  Use a popular name, and you risk having your son be one of seven "Jaxon's" on the soccer team. But think of poor Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette. Yeah, her parents are nut jobs  and she doesn't have a chance.

1. The classics are always best. When in doubt, look to your scriptures and find a great name. One that is appealing, and easy for all to pronounce.... A name that will inspire and give the child something to live up to.... A name still relevant in today's world.

Like Agrippa or Bathsheba.

Yeah, baby. That's the ticket.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Simple = Success

Eclair had a birthday! What can I say? August is a big month for us. Neither of our childern who where born in August were DUE in August. One came three weeks late just out of contrariness. He should have been born before my birthday in July. The other came two weeks early solely to make the kindergarten cutoff. She thinks ahead, that little girl. And now she's (count 'em) nine.

But I digress. We were discussing ANOTHER birthday.

I SO COMPLETELY LOVE THROWING PARTIES. Kid parties especially. I was even asked to teach an evening class on kid parties at the local JC many many moons ago. So. Completely. Love them.

I think too many of us over think and over plan children's parties. Spend HOURS of time preparing for them. And way too much money. I've seen parties on the internet that make me ill. Where hundreds of dollars are spent, weeks are spent on preparation, and the kid is only two, and won't remember a thing. Is this party being thrown for the child? or the other attendees the parent would like to impress? I have thrown a few whopper parties (someday I'll blog those, just to contradict this post, k?) but they are the exception, not the rule.

I truly believe that, especially for younger children, simplicity is the key. So let's review Elclair's party as an example.

Start with homemade invitation, sent out about a week in advance. Two invitations, actually: one handwritten with crayons, mostly illegible, made by birthday girl, accompanied by a card that mommy made with the most important information that parents might like to have (like date, location, time, etc.).

As we were making the invitations, we discussed what we wanted to do at the party, and came up with a list of possible activities. We may or may not use them all, and all require little planning.

The day of the party, I baked a homemade cake at 8:30 am (it is August, you know, just trying to beat the heat).

I roused the sleeping troops and gave cleaning instructions. Only Hubby got up and starting helping. Screamapiller eventually joined him, Thing One left for work and abandoned us to our fate. Thing Two was difficult to rouse. He eventually arose and grudgingly participated (why yes, he was the contrary child who was born three weeks late now that you mention it....). Luke Skywalker was absent, gone with the scouts to spend the previous night camping on top of Timpanogos in the rain. The birthday girl was singing and playing on the computer,using her feet to type for some unknown reason. She's excused from chores in honor of her birthday.

At 10 am, Eclair left and went to a party at the church. Thing Two and I went out and acquired provisions: beach themed gift bags & leis from the dollar store, treats & balloons from the grocery store. And buying the TOP SECRET present from us & grandma & grandpa.

Pickup Eclair and take her out to lunch, return home and finish cleaning kitchen, start decorating cake. Assign tasks to 2 children & hubby to finish prep for party. Eclair puts together 20 gift bags - when we realized we needed 20, we decided to include only a can of Country Time and a Little Debbie treat -- because all they really care about is taking a goodie bag home -- they don't particularly care what is in it.

At 2pm guests arrive, Eclair gives each a lei, and exclaims in wonder over the wrapped present, and takes the guest to the slippery slide which is our gathering activity.

The idea behind this was "Everyone isn't here and arrivals will be staggered, so lets just slide and play until about a quarter after." Yeah. Great idea. Couldn't pull them away -- so this lasted about 35 minutes. As you can see, no one is having any fun yet. Poor Kay, above, is being tortured as you can see.

Then we played a game I had not heard of before. Screamapillar found it on the internet and thought looked like fun. Throw a bunch of   ice cubes  into the kiddie pool and make them pull them out again -- USING ONLY THEIR TOES.

This was a lot of fun. We had so many kids that we had to take turns -- Unfortunately, it was August -- in Utah.  And the ice cubes didn't last long. You can see two feet on the right there trying valiantly to grab the last couple of surviving ice cubes. They really enjoyed this, I recommend it big time.

Next up was a game Eclair chose, which she calls "Drip, Drip, Drop." Think "Duck, Duck, Goose" with water. Eclair has a bucket full of cold water, and a very large sponge. Drip a little on each child, then squeeeezzeee out the sponge on whoever you want to "goose."

There's Eclair in her saggy baggy bathing suit (why did she not wear the cute one?) dousing little Jazzy. Jazzy pursues Eclair, and then takes a turn herself. Rinse and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. This game, also, was loved so well it was hard to move on to the next one.

Into two circles this time, for "Hot Potato." Our water version was a little bit different. And wetter, of course. Use a pin to poke a hole near the knotted end of the water balloon, causing it to spring a leak. Pass around the circle until it deflates or bursts.

Laugh and giggle because "Look! It's peeing!!!"  This one was great. They loved it! Then they had the bright idea of adding a second balloon. And a third.

Then it evolved all by itself into the next planned activity: Water Balloon Fight. Timing determined by kids having a good time. I think. Look below and judge for yourself.

Well, Sallie looks a bit startled and wet, but everyone else looks happy. This is the point of a party. Or at least it should be. Not how much you spent, or which exclusive clown or cowboy you hired. Not which kid's parents think you're a Martha Stewart clone.

Those smiling faces are why I love parties.

The next activity was "Picking up expired water balloon carcasses from the lawn," which they did quickly and happily because I promised them cake and ice cream.

Okay, so here's where you think I'm insane, and I am. There were 16 kids, including Eclair, at this party. I don't recommend this unless you also are insane. And you are throwing the party out of doors. Because it got REALLY CROWDED at cake time.

This is why we had 16 kids: Eclair is different. She's our PDD kid, and has some social issues. She is fortunately friends with some VERY AMAZING KIDS. Who love her despite her disabilities. Our family rule had always been to invite as many kids as you are old, and it has been a pretty good rule until Eclair came along. It would break her heart if she had to turn a friend away. So she invites EVERYONE. Luckily, some of the many friends have other commitments and keep our numbers from getting out of hand. A few hours before the party, I got a call from G's mom. Apparently, a fight had broken out at her house because of this party. She has four children ages 4, 4, 6 and 7. G is the 7 year old, and a close friend of Eclair. She argued that the invitation was for her, and only her. Everyone else claimed that it was an invitation for all, because they all love Eclair and are her friends. Guess what? All came and were welcome. Only four of the children in attendance didn't bring a sibling who was also invited.

We are very very blessed in the friends who love our daughter.

Here is the cake. One of the favorite ones I have ever made. Slop on some blue icing (poorly mixed so you get dark blue, light blue and white so it looks kinda like water) with an assortment of sea creatures piped on. Lots of sea creatures: two octopus, one squid, three crabs and a lobster, fish, coral and seaweed everywhere else. Because everyone wants a piece with eyeballs. Extra icing in decorating bags on the side in case I need to add additional eyeballs to cut pieces of cake. Look: they're still not having any fun.

After the cake & ice cream have been consumed, we remember there are presents to be opened. I love this photo:

Eclair is examining the little pet. The two girls in orange leis, who have given it to her, are looking for Eclair's reaction. The two girls behind Eclair on the couch are just a little excited about the amazing present. Everyone enjoys the opening part, especially the givers. Eclair is the youngest of five children. None of them play with toys. Eclair has fallen heir to ALL of their toys. We don't need any more. But none of the parents listened to me and everyone brought too many presents. Eclair was elated.

Parents arrived to take happy wet children home with their gift bags. And I was wrong about the gift bags: they did care what was in them. The boys refused the bags with pink cans of strawberry lemonade and came back to trade me for the yellow regular lemonade ones. Whew. That was rough. A note on gift bags: I don't get lots of annoying whistles, cheap toys & sugary candy for the bags because I love my friends, the parents of these children. It's the least I can do for them to not send a bunch of garbage in a bag to their homes. The idea is to find something NOT JUNK to put in the bag. So you're not spending your hard earned money on stuff for the purpose of filling a bag, stuff that's going to be in the garbage can tomorrow.

I call it a success. Eclair and Company had a great time. Got wet. Laughed, giggled, played games, and ate too much cake and ice cream from generic party plates.

And she spent the rest of the day shooting me with a squirt gun "FILLED WITH POISONOUS WATER!! YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!!!"
 The games never end.

Hubby had a birthday...

And I cheated. I do that. A lot.

I bought the cake at Costco. Thank you, Costco bakery, for making life easier.

Why yes, you did read that right: HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS

Am I mean, or what?

Actually, I'm truly evil.

This was the cake for the summer birthday's party. Note: Two girls, LOTS of boys. I love how Thing Two in incapable of keeping his eyes open when a flash is deployed.

My husband asked for pie instead. My brother too. And my son.


My wonderful nephews just ate cake and said thank you.Oh, that's right. They have overbearing control freak sisters, so they knew better than the men how to keep a low profile and not make waves. Good boys.

Happy summer birthdays to ME, Hubby, Thing Two, Eclair, my little bro and an assortment of nephews.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My advice column.

Not many people know this, but I am excellent at giving advice. Just because it is unsolicited, doesn't mean it isn't good advice. Really!

Today I'd like to share with you some advice about cleaning out the refrigerator. I have much to offer on this particular subject, because my fridge is  a giant mess and in desperate need of cleaning all the time. Thus, I am an expert on refrigerators that need to be cleaned, right? Here goes.

Dear Ms. Know-it-all,
I recently found some yellow fruit in my fridge. I have no recollection of buying yellow fruit, but I have bought limes in the last 6 months. What do you suggest I do with them? Throw them away? 
----- Perplexed in Provo

Dear Perplexed,
Heavens no, child! Your limes have achieved a higher state! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! By no means, though, would I recommend actually drinking the lemonade.

Dear Crazy Woman who offers advice,
My mother recently gave me a sealed container of chicken soup base. I noticed today that the expiration date on the package is March 2009, well over a year ago. Is she losing it, or is this perhaps an attempt on my life?
----- Murdered by my mother?

Dear Murdered,
Of course it is an attempt on your life! And the lives of you husband and children also! She was suggesting that you cook, and even without expired soup base your family's lives are in danger! Go get some take-out pizza instead, and live another day.

Dear Whoever you are,
I am sick to death of cleaning up spilled chocolate syrup in the fridge. The kids never close the lid all the way, and they shove things in the fridge all willy-nilly, and it's always getting knocked over and wasted. Any suggestions?
----- Cocoa Cleaner-upper

Dear Cocoa,
MAKE THE EVIL CHILDREN LICK IT UP. Wasting chocolate is a cardinal sin.This will probably never happen again.

Dear What's 'er name,
I have trouble with uneaten leftovers going to waste in my fridge. How do you label your leftovers so people can readily identify them and use them up?
----- Wanda Waster

Dear Wanda,
I use a very simple color-coding method. Blue mold is vegetables.  White mold is cheese. Black mold is bread.  Green mold is fruit and/or meat. Really, its just a matter of making sure your husband and children understand the color code.

Dear I don't really care who you are please answer my question,
What. The heck. Is this?
--- Really, really scared.

Dear Scared,
RUN!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! It's either Jimmy Hoffa's head, or a Tomahawk missile. Either way, hang this handy sign on the fridge and NEVER OPEN IT AGAIN.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A little trip to the thrift store.

I love to thrift shop. Seems like everybody does. It's all I see in the blogiverse. People thrift shopping and finding the MOST AMAZING STUFF. Name brands. Designer clothes. Antique treasures.

I thought perhaps that I would share with you a few recent finds I discovered while waiting for Screamapillar to try on clothes (because apparently 4328 shirts is not enough). I apologize in advance for the inferior quality of the photos -- I was using my cell phone. If I had known I would find such incredible things, I would have brought the DSLR.

Let's start with this lovely couple. Aren't they priceless? Actually, they'll cost you a pretty penny since they are so unique and collectible. And they are bookends, so they are actually quite useful as well. $7.99 anyone?

I'm afraid I must pass. Wouldn't want the children having nighmares with these two "angels" staring blankly into space...at nothing....but thinking...."as soon as the child closes her eyes, WE ATTACK!!!"

And this lovely piece of ......objet d'art....Cowboy boot with broken spur....Cactus on a field of amarillo emblazoned with what appear to be Christmas lights.....could it possibly be?


Ever wonder what is would look like if you could spin unicorn barf into yarn?

Yes. This atrocity would be the result. Hurry now, hurry to the next photo....

This, this I almost considered laying out some cash for. BECAUSE IT IS MORE TRUE THAN ANY OTHER HOKEY SIGN I SAW. And I saw MANY.

A truer statement was never uttered. Or lovingly hand painted onto a piece of scrap
and then donated to a thrift store.

OOOOOoooooo! SHINY!!!!!

But does that color really go with ANYTHING?
I think not. Pass again.

What about this little PETA nightmare? LOOKS WARM!!!

I think I have pictures of my brother-in-law wearing such a fashion statement in 1972. 
Are you glad also that it is no longer 1972?

Look at the lovely selection of lamps from 1492! The big green one on the left? We had that one when I was a kid. Two of 'em actually, and they went to a thrift store JUST LIKE THIS ONE many years ago.
The big ugly one on the right? Look for it soon on some insane lady's blog after she "finds" it and spraypaints it makes it into a .....I don't know! I can't think like those uber-crafty people! Okay, a funeral urn!

Well.... Um.....This......

I'm sorry, I have no words.
(does anyone know what happened to this poor lady's face?)

This is truly priceless. But the photo really doesn't do it justice.

Demon laser-eyed baby on a plate. Can't leave without this one!

But I must share with you the best item of all. The one I paid money for and brought home with me. The Unusual  Priceless Vintage Collectible   Antique  item that I will never be so lucky to find again! It's truly one of a kind!

And here is Thing One to model this spectacular find for your enjoyment.

And now she can never show her face in public again.

The End.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I finally finished it!

My mom's Mother's Day present.

Yep. I'm lame. Don't be pretending you didn't already know. It took forever for a multitude of reasons mostly involving the fact that life keeps kicking me in the shins and won't give me a break.

Remember that old tv show now seen in reruns M*A*S*H? How they had the signpost outside the Swamp showing mileage to all the places they wished they were? Well, I made one of those. I actually made it about 6 years ago, but my parents moved. And so the mileage was all messed up. And it was horribly weather beaten.

And now I have repainted it and corrected the mileage. So it's correct. Mostly.

I used the heavy duty indoor/outdoor spray paint, yellow fer grils and blue for our poor lonely brother (we used pink before, and it faded way to fast).

Dad & I have discussed it, and agree that the post is going to have to be about 4 feet taller since we have decided to start including grandkids who have moved away from home and started their own families. The grandchildren shall all be green.

I used a fat paint pen to do the lettering, and Dad intends to seal the whole thing so it doesn't get pummeled so bad by our harsh summers and excruciating winters. BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EVER MOVE AGAIN.

Unless they are moving closer to me again......


Friday, August 20, 2010

Top ten things that make summer amazing...

10. Sleeping in....with a cat, no less.

9. Getting up early to do flags for holidays with the scouts.


8. Having 6000 people over for Cul de sac of FIRE!

7. Cousins visiting!
We had visits from EVERYBODY this year.

6. Birthdays! We have 4 in the summer.

5. Boys going to camp.

4. Girls going to camp.
3. Taking naps in the middle of the day.

2. Getting to hold a really big snake with your boyfriend at the Freedom Festival.

1. Dancing in the rain with your best friend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Photo & Quote of the day...

"Da ball, eeet ees precious.....jou can't just geeve eet away!"
-- Screamapillar's soccer coach, Carlos.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quiche Day

During my Birthday Week, Thursday was "Quiche Party" day. Quiche is good.
Especially with bacon in!

My nephew forced me to make quiche. How did he do this? He asked, "Aunt Julie? I need some help. I'm making dinner for a date, and I need some help with making a quiche." And since his mother is not here to help him and I am, and because I will do almost anything for the dear boy, I made quiche. The biggest problem was that his date doesn't eat bacon, so it had to be left out of the recipe. I should have refused on moral grounds. Instead, he is forbidden to marry any girl who won't eat bacon. It's unnatural. And weird.

So I went to one of my best resources, PW. She knows everything. Especially food. She didn't let me down, but provided me with an amazzzzing  and easy quiche recipe. You can find it here. When I made this recipe for my nephew's misguided girlfriend, I followed this recipe except for the artichoke hearts and the monumental mistake of leaving out the bacon. When I made it again for my birthday, I made some changes to make it more "mine." Quiche is really easy to change -- when it comes down to it, all it is is glorified scrambled eggs. Today, I give you my adaptation of PW's recipe:

Julie's Birthday Quiche
2 deep dish pie shells from your grocer's freezer because we're cheaters.
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
1 lb bacon
1 small zucchini, diced
1 large onion, sliced very thin
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups grated swiss cheese
a big bunch of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Make sure you dice those mushrooms real small because huge ones make me gag. And mine were enormous mushrooms, almost as big as the onion.

First, in a large pot or dutch oven, fry up your bacon. Not too crispy, 'cause it's going to continue cooking with all the other ingredients. Remove from the pan and put on a paper towel to dry. You might lose 3 or 4 calories this way.

Now this part is evil, you may not want to follow my bad example.

Saute the oinons in the bacon grease.

Or be a good girl and drain the grease and saute in the butter instead. 

Me, I figure bacon grease is just as bad as butter, so why not use it instead? More flavor, man!

When the onions start to carmelize, add your mushrooms & zucchini. Everything starts to shrink at this point. And when you add the spinach next, it gets even worse:

So look at it starting out all green and fluffy.....then look below to what becomes of spinach when combined with heat:

But this is okay, you wouldn't want a bunch of fluffy spinach in your quiche. After this is all reduced, remove from the heat and allow it to cool while you mix the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs thoroughly. Then add the cream and grated swiss cheese, and some salt & pepper if you like. Add in your cooled veg BEING CAREFUL TO DRAIN OFF ANY LIQUID. You don't want a squishy quiche. Chop up your cooled bacon into small pieces and add to the mix, then pour the whole mess into the two pie shells. Cook at 350 for one hour, covered with aluminum foil.
Then, as Ree would say, "feed to hungry humans." This is Jack, my friendly neighborhood aspiring-musician and co-worker who never says no to anything free and edible. And make sure you hang around for the compliments, he's quite generous in that regard. Below are some of the lovely ladies I work with wondering "Why, again, are you taking random photos of us with food?" Because I love you, ladies. And since you read this miserable blog, you should at least get photo credit for it.


That's all. You may now return to enjoying your regularly scheduled day.