Friday, March 29, 2013

Shouldn't be this hard

Planning a 4 day camping trip shouldn't be this hard. Granted, I took it upon myself to make master checklists and everything, so that won't have to be done every single time, but still! The most annoying job is the menu planning. First off I'm too picky. I don't like to eat hot dogs and hamburgers for 4 days. Also, I don't like to spend a lot of time preparing food while camping, it's my vacation too! So what does that mean? It means I spent all day browsing camping meal ideas, then making a mile-long ingredient list, then a shopping list, and of course a to do list for the next 4 days leading up to departure.  Then I even went so far as getting most of the shopping done, with my 7 year old in tow who must have asked me 5 questions per minute for the whole hour. That adds up to about 300 questions. Of course I wanted to stay interested in her interests, and answer her questions, but I couldn't help catching myself wishing she'd just give me a little bit of peace and quiet. The stress of putting away groceries and cooking dinner, combined with more questions, now by 3 kids total, was enough to praise myself for buying some chocolate and consuming more than I dare to say. Now the house has quieted, my kitchen is clean (Yes, I actually cleaned it after dinner), and I'm finally able to unwind and relax. Now all I have to do is focus one day at a time on the tasks that need to be accomplished. We WILL get ready before departure. And then our camping trip will be nice and relaxing (a girl can dream)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Camping Checklists

As a tent camper, the biggest thing I dread is packing up what seems to be the entire house. And I always forget a few crucial things. I've envied my friends with camp trailers who can just keep all of the stuff in the trailer and only have to pack clothes and food. After some browsing on Pinterest, I decided what I need is a more organized system with pre-made packing lists.

The first must is a Portable Camp Kitchen. It's simple really. You just pack all the essentials in a tote, so when it comes time to camp, you just grab the tote and go. I got most of my items at the thrift store and the dollar store, so it doesn't have to cost much.  Of course it's imperative that after each trip you make sure the tote is replenished and cleaned out.

If you want to use my checklist, go HERE to print it out. Pack all the items in a tote, and put the printed list on top (inside the tote). That way you can see what's in the tote, and add items if necessary without having to dig through the hole tote to see what you already packed. To keep the list looking nice, you can insert it into a plastic sheet protector, and use a white board marker to check off the items as you repack it.

The next tote that can always stay packed is the "Camping Gear Tote". These are supplies that don't necessarily belong in the Camp Kitchen, but are necessary for any camping trip.

Get your Checklist HERE

After you have your Kitchen Tote and your Gear Tote ready, it will be much easier to pack for any upcoming camping trip. With the help of a few blogs, I've come up with a master packing list. Of course a few items will be different for different families, but you can easily add items in the blank spaces. Keep it simple for yourself, and store some of these items together in a closet or basement.

Download a printable PDF of the Packing List HERE.

It would help to keep a printed Packing Checklist in your kitchen or gear tote, so when you are ready to pack, it's accessible and you don't have to come searching for my blog again. :)
Put the checklist in a sheet protector, and you can then easily check off as you pack, and reuse it the next time!

Happy Camping, and thanks for stopping by

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Under Pressure

About a month ago a friend of mine mentioned that she had an electric pressure cooker. A magical kitchen device that cooks food in a fraction of the normal time. After being frustrated with the hours and hours it takes to cook beans (after soaking them overnight), and after my slow cooker pot broke, I started researching electric pressure cookers. I decided to get the Instant Pot. It really is a magical machine! Bean soup ready in under an hour. From frozen chicken to a delicious meal in 45 minutes.

And tonight after making curry in it, (the kids didn't eat much because it was pretty spicy) I was craving some rice pudding. Normally I only make rice pudding if there is leftover rice, and it seems to take forever, and you have stir non-stop to prevent burning. So a lightbulb went off in my head, and I realized I could just make it in the pressure cooker.

All the recipes I found online are for a thicker, cold style rice pudding. We eat ours a little more liquid and warm. Here's the recipe I created

Rice Pudding / Rijstebrij
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar

Dump all the ingredients in the pot. Then I set the Instant Pot timer to 20 minutes, doubling the normal rice time.  After the cooker is done, turn it all the way off, and let let it sit for about 5-10 minutes (don't open the valve!) The rice should be very mushy and soft.  Add another 1- 1.5 cups of cold milk to thin out the consistency.  To serve add a dob of butter, and cinnamon and sugar to taste, and enjoy!

This recipe made barely enough for me and the kids to have dessert. Probably next time I'll make either 1.5 or double the recipe.
They asked why I don't make it more often. Maybe now I will!

(I was totally going to take a picture of the pudding, but we ate it so fast that I forgot!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


A few months ago I bought a groupon (online coupon voucher) for 2 adult lift tickets to the Canyons Ski resort. The Canyons is the most  amazingly huge ski resort I've ever been to. There is no way you can ski all the blue routes in one day. Joe took a vacation day, we hired a babysitter for Miles, and some skis for me, and headed out. It was sort of strange driving to the resort with hardly any snow anywhere in the valleys. I don't know how they keep that much snow in the resorts (besides the obvious snow makers), but it can seem like spring in the valley and as soon as you get to the resort it feels like the middle of winter again.
 I decided to ski today, because I'm still a very beginner snowboarder, and frankly didn't want to spend all day on my butt. We also stayed on the blue runs, and I decided my favorite type of run, is a gradual winding slope with pine trees on both sides. A few of the runs were advertised wrong in my opinion (should have been double blue), and I did not enjoy the steep ones.
(this was the worst one, see how there's a drop-off, as if you're at the end of the world?)

 I never felt out of control, but it sucks "standing on the brakes" the entire run.  The snow was surprisingly good for the weather we've been having.  We spent a good portion of the day in a section of the mountain that has a terrain park. Joe likes to go off the jumps, and I take the easier way down and meet at the bottom. A few time he even did 2 runs for my 1 run.

We had a nice lunch at the lodge half-way through the day. Skiing/snowboarding has become (or maybe always has been) an expensive sport, where the resort gauges you at every turn. This makes me so sad. Maybe when we win the lottery, we'll get season tickets.
It was a great day away from everything, and to just spend time with Joe. This is why we moved to Utah!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lego exhibit

The Kimball Art Center in Park City has the "Art of the Brick" exhibit on display. Art made from Legos. Sterling being the lego fan that he is seemed to appreciate the legos, and Winter seemed to appreciate the art aspect. It was quite amazing what Nathan Sawaya was able to accomplish with this medium. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Winter officially had her first babysitting job. She watched the Calderwood's kids while they went to the temple. Since it was her first time and she is still a little young, I went with for support. I'm proud to say she did very well at entertaining the kids, reading them stories before bed, and patiently wrangling them when it was bedtime.

Being there, gave me the opportunity to teach her some tricks, including cleaning up a little after the kids went to bed. At least I know I like coming home to a neat house, rather than a house where it looks like a tornado came through. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sterling turns 10

Sterling is getting to be such a big boy! He came to use 10 years ago, with his skinny little legs, which never left us. He loves lizards, tools, legos, teasing his sisters, and going to school.  He finishes everything as fast as possible. Chores, homework, and even building his new lego sets.  

His presents were a hit. 
 He was most excited about the little shovels and garbage that came with this lego dump truck
 Miles helped to unwrap

 By far the biggest hit was this BBgun from grandma and grandpa Ashurst.

 What will the next 10 years with Sterling bring?

Monday, March 11, 2013


Unless I have my sewing machine set up at all times, I am very unlikely to do my sewing projects. It's just too much of a hassle to get the machine and all the accessories out. Lay everything out on the dining table, and then have to clean it all up again for mealtime. I have a sewing desk and cabinet for my supplies, but when we first moved in I thought Winter's room would be a good place to house it, since it's the biggest bedroom. Well, I am never upstairs, let alone in her room, so I had to start looking for a better solution. Eventually, when Miles' bedroom won't be needed for a nursery anymore, I'll turn his room into my very own craft room. But until that point, a corner in my own bedroom will have to suffice.

After hauling the desk downstairs, and getting my essential accessories in the drawers, I'm happy with my little corner. Now I can maybe start working on embroidering stocking for my friend Sara. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Oh how I miss the days of ignorant pregnancy bliss. As soon as I found out with my first 3 kids that I was pregnant, I started daydreaming about the sex of the baby and what they would be/look like.
But the further I get along in this pregnancy, the more stressed out I become. Originally my first prenatal visit wasn't scheduled until almost 10 weeks, but a few days ago I couldn't handle it anymore, and rescheduled for this afternoon. I got pregnant so easily this time. Almost too easily. All my doubts and worry from my 2 miscarriages has set in, and is steadily getting stronger. With my first miscarriage there were signs of trouble early on, around 5 weeks. With the second one, everything seemed fine until 8 weeks, when the ultrasound showed a small fetus. Other than my previous experiences I have no indication that anything is wrong with this pregnancy, which is why it is so nerve wracking. I'm really hoping they will do an ultrasound, so I can have a better idea of what is going on. I really don't want to get my hopes up to high, only to have them crushed again. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013


"I grew up in the Boy scouts, so I can handle anything this place has to throw at me, but the park ranger put that sign there to keep us all safe"

Said a very loud and obnoxious father in Zion's National Park today, when explaining to his son why they shouldn't pass the "trail closed" sign. Trying to get away from the cold weather for a bit, and getting a mountain bike ride in, we headed south for the weekend.

Our first stop was in Fillmore, to visit Joe's grandpa A. and his wife Madge. They are the cutest couple. We were treated to dinner at the local restaurant (Paradise Inn), and the kids got some fun little presents at the gift shop. After going to bed on time, my stomach was upset during the night. Just when I was about ready to go back to bed, grandpa was awake, so we talked for over 2 hours. It is so fun to hear about all of his experiences, and stories from where his family came from.

In the morning we headed down to Hurricane, where Joe rode a Gem trail. Unfortunately I couldn't go with him, since Miles obviously isn't big enough to ride a bike. These are times that I fully recognize the sacrifices I have to make because I decided to have another baby when the older kids are finally at an age that they can do most activities. He worth every single sacrifice though!

While Joe was on his ride the kids and I had blizzards at Dairy Queen, and played at the park.

Our campground was in Zion's National Park. We parked at South Campground, where we were practically alone. The weather was perfect, which made us wonder why anybody would want to go there in the middle of the piping hot summer. As we unpacked we discovered our tent stakes were missing. Although I was ready to sleep in a tent half the size it should be, Joe was much more crafty and made his very own stakes out of wood! Love being married to handy guy!

Of course we had a bonfire with hotdogs, and marshmellows

I swear this is the last time I EVER sleep on a thin camping mat! Between the cold, my upset stomach, the rock hard ground, and Miles who kept waking me up, I got less than an ideal night sleep.

This morning we went on a little paved (gasp!) trail hike to Emerald Pools, which is where we met the men from the above quote. I was laughing so hard, and wishing I had been able to get that on video.

Joe took the kids climbing

Miles is at an age now that he loves crawling around in the dirt. I wish he was walking, but you just set all cleanliness aside and let him enjoy. Normally Coco is too fast for Miles, but with his harness and leash Miles can actually get ahold of Coco, and he loves it!

Then we headed back to Northern Utah. It's so easy to get used to 72 degree weather, and that makes it so much harder to come back to cold and rain. But it's nice to be home.

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