Friday, September 27, 2013

5 Fall Changes

  1. Sunset is creeping up on us every day. Have you noticed? It is dark by 8:00 pm now, which helps me convince 2Flowers that it is time to get ready for bed. But while I'm enjoying the cooler night air, I am not looking forward to Daylight Savings! Do we really need Daylight Savings anymore? We suddenly lose more light at night (when I could really use it) and gain more in the morning (when I could be sleeping!). Even when I was in college and working I didn't like the change (getting out of class at 4:00 and walking across a dark campus? Um, no thanks!) Hey! Let's ditch Daylight Savings... how do we go about doing that? [Edit: The time change is so confusing! I had it backwards.We are actually going to get more light at night and less in the morning. But it is still going to mess up my schedule, so I still want to ditch it.]
  2. It is getting crispy and cool in the mornings and evenings! We are wrapping up in blankets more often and dipping into our collection of jackets and sweaters. We sometimes still run the air conditioner in the afternoon, but we are doing that less and less often.
  3. There is more pollen and dust in the air as the wind kicks up and the growing season changes. I can tell because I'm having trouble breathing. It is time to ramp up my asthma control plan and take more meds more often. My asthma reaches its peak during the winter, but autumn is my chance to get my plan in action before things get really bad.
  4. The leaves are starting to fall! Most of them haven't changed color, but we are getting some light yellow leaves falling from the trees around the house. This is crunchy leaf season here because it is still hot enough that the fallen leaves dry out and crunch when you step on them. In a month or so, when the rain starts, we'll have tons of leaves on the ground, but they'll be soggy and not crunchy at all.
  5. I don't think about finding a pool every day anymore. We still keep our swimsuits handy because GiGi-J has a hot tub, but they aren't sitting in a bag by the door ready to go at a moment's notice anymore. It's a little bit funny, but the less I think about finding a pool, the more I think about swim suits! Where am I going to keep them over the winter so I can find them easily? When are they on sale so I can be ready for next summer? And where can I buy the suits I really want for the kids?
What is changing in your life now that it is fall?

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Looking forward to fall

What do you say when someone asks you what your favorite season is? Do you know without hesitation what your favorite time of year is? Or do you hem and haw because you don't love any one part of the year more than the others?

We were playing a game at a Relief Society activity a few weeks ago that made me think about this question. I can't say without hesitation what season is my "favorite," but I also don't not have a favorite part of the year.

My favorite part of the year is the time when the seasons change.

I like spring.

And fall.

I think my favorite time is spring because the days are lengthening and with the depression I get a bit desperate for the sunlight. But this year I am really looking forward to fall. I'm so excited for Halloween to come! Which is strange because I don't like the skeletons, ghosts, witches, vampires, and zombies. I do like dressing up in something fun and cute. And now that I have 2Flowers, dressing up is even more fun! I also look forward to Trunk or Treat.

But what I'm looking forward to more than Halloween is the cool and crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the pumpkins, and maybe actually getting to wear a jacket (I love jackets!), the wind and the first few rains, the pumpkins, and the corn maze! We did a corn maze last year (my first one ever), and I am REALLY excited to do that again. I'm also looking forward to the fall decorations... even though I hardly decorate at all. I've noticed that seasonal decorating is a skill I definitely don't have. But it isn't for lack of craftiness... it is because I'm terrible at planning and taking action ahead of time! I'm hoping to improve those skills a little this year.

So right now my favorite season is fall. And guess what! This Sunday (September 22nd) is the Fall Equinox, so next week it is officially fall!

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pinned It. Did It! Mini Mexican Pizzas

Once upon a time I read a post over at Simple Mom in which Tsh mentioned that she used Pinterest as a meal planning tool. I don't remember how she described it, but I thought it sounded neat... and like it might actually help me visualize the meals I was trying to plan! I signed up for Pinterest on the spot.

As you probably know, you can lose hours and hours to Pinterest without realizing it. There are some who feel that Pinterest is a complete waste of time, but I have found that for me, it is not. My struggles to effectively plan (and make) meals for my family did not evaporate back in 2011 when I started my What's for dinner? Pinterest board, but over the years I have collected a variety of pins that I can browse, looking for something that looks appealing to my mood. Some of the recipes in my dinner pins are beyond my skill right now, but with every recipe I try I find I am more able to manage the process of collecting ingredients, following the recipe, and making meals for my family.

This week I tried three (THREE!) new recipes! And I only called my mentor a few times ("!! We don't have any breadcrumbs!... What do I do?") AND I actually comprehended what he said and wasn't intimidated by his suggestions.

Here is one of the recipes that I tried this week: Mini Mexican Pizzas from Dashing Dish. Ground beef, re-fried beans, salsa, and taco seasoning in tortillas sprinkled with cheese. Six ingredients (plus optional toppings). I'm growing! My limit is usually about five ingredients and then I start to feel intimidated. I even experimented a little, too!

The original recipe called for whole wheat tortillas, cut into smaller circles to make "mini" tortillas. Well, we didn't have whole wheat tortillas, so I used flour tortillas. But it seemed like extra work to cut them smaller (even though they came out deliciously crispy) so when I made the recipe again (I made it twice this week! I feel impressed.) I used white corn tortillas, which is what nearly all of the Spanish hermanas on my mission used. The white corn tortillas are smaller than flour tortillas but bigger than mini tortillas, and are nearly always in our fridge. The corn tortillas were faster to use and made bigger servings, so I think they're a keeper.

The ground beef was a bit of a problem because I am not very comfortable shopping for or cooking meat. But Lost Boy helped me by buying the ground beef for me. We had salsa (phew!), but no refried beans. But that wasn't as big a hangup for me as it could have been, because ever since the mission I have preferred black beans and watched the hermanas from my mission mash them like refried beans. I added some frozen corn (because I like corn and black beans together, and because Katie said she likes to put corn in the recipe).

And then there was taco seasoning. We don't have taco seasoning. I don't like taco seasoning. It doesn't taste like the Spanish food I ate on the mission (and I ate Spanish food from a lot of different Hispanic cultures). And it is always too salty. So I looked up a recipe for homemade taco seasoning online and made my own! I felt so accomplished that I just pulled it all together in a few minutes. But I have to attribute my success to a friend who gave me all her spices when she moved out of state and couldn't take very much, and to Grandpa Freddy, because we inherited all of his spices when we moved into his house. Between Robin and Grandpa, I actually had all the spices I needed on hand. I still don't really like taco seasoning, but I like feeling that I have control over the flavor. Next time I make it I'll put in less chili powder and more cocoa powder (I don't know what hermanas really use, but cocoa powder strikes me as potentially authentically Mexican - just think mole!).

Then there is the grated cheese (I can do that!). And bake it for not very long (less than 20 minutes, good deal.) And viola!

We didn't have any sour cream, so we used kefir (which I'm trying to incorporate into our daily diet). And I chopped some tomato to put on it. The first night I made it I ate a whole half of the mini tostadas and 2Flowers ate two halves of two mini tostadas. I think this recipe might be a keeper.

I Pinned it. And I did it!

 Pinned it Did it Red 200x200