Summer to do list... UPDATE!

We have really enjoyed our "Summer to do list" (read about it this post). 
Here are pictures from recent activities:

Slip and Slide!

Talent Show!
Jeff demonstrated his incredible Rubik's cube skills

Grant did a pretty amazing card trick.

Dallin ate 13 pancakes! (after eating dinner, he also ate his candy bar prize without skipping a beat. I am beginning to understand what people talk about with teenage boys and their appetites!)
There were also many other talents: push ups, uno skills, fruit snack eating and piano playing.

Run a Race!
We inaugurated the first Judd/Lish/Hall family race around the block 
(.38 miles... I don't know how many "k's" that is)

Of course David won, but Haley was a close second. 
I came in last, but at least I finished :)
Thank you Summer to do list - We're having a blast!


Freezer Friday, Sanity Saver!

I don't know about you but my kids are always needing a plate of cookies to take somewhere... treat for YM/YW, fireside, sick friend, presidency visit... etc. They also love cookies during these long summer afternoons. 
One idea that I'm sure a lot of people do is freeze cookie dough balls. You can just make a few without messing up the entire kitchen or heating the house for very long. We have even been known to cook a couple in the toaster oven for cookie emergencies. 
It's very simple. Make your favorite cookie dough. (I've frozen many different kinds and they have all worked just fine.)

Use a cookie scoop to fill a large cookie sheet with dough balls.  Put cookie sheet in the freezer and let them harden. Pull sheet out of freezer and put 12-15 into quart size freezer bags, date them and pop them in the freezer. 
Next time your kids or you need a cookie fix (there could be a legitimate reason) pull one out of the freezer and put right onto the cookie sheet. Preheat your oven. Frozen cookies usually need to cook 2 or 3 minutes longer than normal.  

Put some ice cream between two cooked 
cookies to help you survive a hot summer day!


He'd better eat his Wheaties!

I noticed on one of my son's desk calendar that he's got a pretty big day coming up. 
I wish him the best of luck! 


Look Mom! I can roll over too!

Calvin is rolling over! It is so exciting. Our whole family cheers for him.
It is quite The Event.

 All my kids have done this, so it shouldn't surprise me, but it still makes me smile. 
Here is Tyler... "Look mom, I can roll over too! Take a picture!" 
We cheered for him too! :)


Warning: Potty humor

Here's a joke for you... When is the ONLY appropriate time to yell out "I've got diarrhea!"
When you are playing Scrabble of course!
Here's a cheap and easy decorating idea: Fill a jar with scrabble tiles (you may have them or pick a game up cheap at Goodwill) and write messages to your family. 

The "chill out" was for me... Maybe this way my scrabble game (or at least words with friends) will improve.


Freezer Friday... oooh Fajitas!

Another reason to use your freezer... save money! 
When something is in season or on sale it is a great way to take advantage of the sale. For example last week chicken breasts were $1.67 a pound, peppers were 3 or 4 for $1 and onions were 19 cents a pound. An easy way to use all those ingredients... Fajitas!
I chopped up the veggies and diced the chicken into bite sized pieces.

I marinated the chicken with some water and fajita mix... lazy I know but I haven't found a good fajita recipe I like. I used 5 pounds of chicken so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Put one pound of chicken into a quart size freezer bag and several cups of veggies into a gallon size freezer bag along with the sealed bag of chicken. Stack them in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it's best to let the chicken thaw before you cook it in a little oil in a hot skillet. Add the veggies (still frozen is best). This is a quick easy dinner on a busy night. The kits keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.


72 hour kits

Over a year ago I took all the food out of our 72 hour kits because it expired in 2009. It has taken a year to get new food back in them... (Luckily we didn't need them in the meantime!)The old food kits were very fancy, a menu for each day with very cute individual cans and portions. I decided I needed to do something easier and that didn't need to be replaced as often. Also I wanted the food that we replaced to be something that was practical to eat when I switched it out. I found the answer in the Ensign... amazing :)

Basically to simplify each person gets:
Energy or protein bar for each meal, jar of peanut butter, saltine crackers and 2 bags of dried fruit (craisins, etc.)
I found emergency food bars on Amazon (link on picture) that last 5 years. I'm  happy not to have to rotate those. The peanut butter, crackers and dried fruit is something I can switch out once a year and we could use up easily.

For water I have had individual Mylar packs that have held up pretty well for several years. I tried one and it seemed fine. I ordered more from Amazon (link on picture) so now everyone has enough for all three days in their packs. I would certainly try to take some water bottles with us, but if we couldn't at least they would have the bare minimum.

I switched out the light sticks, batteries and toiletries. The boys' clothes moved down to the next younger brother. I made a backpack for Calvin with diapers and formula, along with all the baby kinds of things.

I also updated the tags for each bag. They include a family picture on one side with the name, birthday and addresses and phone numbers for us and our close relatives and out of town contact.

Yay! It's done for now. The increase in natural disasters in Arizona and around the world makes me appreciate the counsel to be prepared.

I left the big kits alone for now. They have lots of other things like a shovel, axe, toilet paper, garbage bags, tarps, etc. I think most everything in there should be ok. I need to wait for another burst of preparedness energy to tackle those.


Freezer Friday

One thing that has helped me save time, money and sanity is utilizing my freezer. I grew up cooking for a big family so that is the way I have always cooked, even when it was just me and Jeff. Poor Jeff. I have found it is much easier to make a lot of something and freeze the extra. I love having a freezer full of meals ready to go. Freezer cooking has definitely evolved for me through the years. I hate to admit it but I used to have a freezer full of casseroles... ug! Luckily there is a lot less (if any) cream of chicken soup in my cooking now.

To me the biggest advantage of freezer cooking is saving time. I want to share some of the things that have been helpful to me. In an effort to record what has worked for me I'm instituting "Freezer Fridays". I'll try to post one freezer recipe or idea that works well for our family.

A local farmers market has insanely cheap produce. (Strawberries 4 pints for $1, Blueberries 3 pints for $1, Pineapples 99 cents, you get the idea) When something is in season the price is amazing. One way to enjoy this inexpensive bounty all year long are smoothie kits. I use lots of different types of fruits but here is one example.

I use 3 or 4 types of fruit or veggies and fill a quart size freezer bag. In this case I used almost 2 cups of blueberries, 3/4 cup fresh pineapple, 1 and 1/2 bananas and a handful of spinach. These stack easily in the freezer and when I'm ready to use it I just dump it in the blender with some vanilla yogurt and orange juice. One blender full makes 6 small glass servings. Super quick and easy. The total cost for each bag is less than 75 cents.