November 30, 2008
Today is the Big 40 For my oldest son Brad. Boy does time fly. It was just yesterday when I could clearly see that I had a son. November 30, 1968 was a big day for me too.. having a son. I came from a family of 6 girls… so the thought of trucks, baseball, snakes and bugs was a new world I was not familiar with. All I can say… after 40 years is… it’s been a pleasure and a delight to have James Bradley Griffiths in my life.
He was the best child…and so bright.
Last night we celebrated. Family… friends and good food. This is my second son, Wade… who came 11 months later. For 22 days a year… Brad and Wade are the same age.
The lighting of 40 candles takes a little teamwork. Help is needed to get all the candles lit before the first ones burn out.
There we are. This is Brad’s beautiful wife, Martha… and a great mom to 4 young kids. All candles lit and ready to go. Red Velvet cake… Yum!
With this many candles… it took more than one “huff and a puff”… but he got them all.
This DVD surprise was a gift from Brad’s wife, Martha. I contributed photos of Brad as a baby, youth and young man…Martha gathered photos of their marriage and kids… and Katie, my daughter, helped Martha put things together…. and Waaa Laaa… a photo album on disk.
40th birthday gifts are always fun. His brother gave him a Lava Lamp…reminiscences of the 70’s. And I dug around in the my memory box and found this old 1968 Arizona license plate… from the state where he was born. I also found three audio tapes that would be important to him. The first… was his baby blessing… given by his father. The second was the 1970 Griffiths Christmas Party… where Brad… at the age of 2 recited “The Night Before Christmas”… with a bit of help from Mom. The third tape was Brad from his LDS mission in Sao Paulo Brazil. I had them put on disk for his long term pleasure.
I’m sure Brad will agree… that the best gifts he has are his wife and 4 children. Martha and Brad married late, so their family is young…ranging from 6 years old to 4 months. This is Abram… celebrating in his mom’s shoes.
Brad, what more could I ask for… than to have you in my life for the last 40 years. Happy Birth Day to me too.
Happy Birthday Brad.
Thanks for letting me celebrate my joy with you.
P.S. Brad… if you think time has flown by… the next 20 years will be here yesterday.
P.P.S. Hey look… here is Brad’s DVD photo album from his party. Take a look… it’s fun!
November 26, 2008
An attitude of gratitude fills my heart has we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. Amid all of the economic bluster… of which I, like many others, have been affected… there is much to be grateful for. My family, kids and grands, make my heart sing with happiness and gratitude. They are such good people and live exemplary lives… for which I’m proud. My extended family, with their love and support for me, is an additional blessing.
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by good neighbors, who care. We share common values that have contributed to the well-being our own lives and that of our families. This caring extends out into the community… where this small segment of society filled our local food bank to over flowing this last week. When the call was made… these good people stepped up to the plate. I’m sure many of you live in such families and neighborhoods.
I grieve and pray for those in the world who are less fortunate than we are, here in the United States. We are truly a blessed people… even if life is in a up-side down state at this time. I cannot image living in fear and real lack all of the time… as so many of our brothers and sisters do, throughout the world.
After the new year… we’ll have a new president. I pray that we will unite as a country, do our best as individuals, neighbors and citizens of small communities,to keep this country free, safe, and productive. I believe, as individuals, we can do it….just as we have during tough times before. We will get through this.
Have a great Thanksgiving Day. God Bless.
P.S. I’ve neglected this blog due to some pressing family matters… but I’m back. Watch for fun Christmas printables in the near future.
November 21, 2008
Here’s a perfect whipped cream recipe for your files. It has come to my attention that many cooks don’t use whipping cream because it never thickens properly. There are a couple of little tricks you can apply to be successful in whipping your cream for your desserts and pies.
There is a richness in flavor in thick whipping cream that you just can’t get when you use whipped toppings. Whipped toppings have their place… especially when you combine it with other ingredients. It holds it’s firmness better, if refrigerated over time, and does not separate as real cream will. But, when your dressing a dessert or pie… there is nothing like topping it with real whipped cream.
1. You will need one half pint of thick whipping cream. If you purchase your cream by the quart, you will use 1 cup.
2. Use 3 TB of sugar. Most recipes call for 1/4 C… but that’s a bit sweet for me… especially if your dessert is particularly sweet.
3. The next ingredient is flavoring. The most common flavoring is vanilla. Use 1 tes. However, other flavorings can add an extra zing to your cream. Maple flavoring is a delightful addition to your whipped cream… especially if your serving pumpkin pie. I use about 1/2 tes. of maple flavoring.
Tip #1: Chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 mins. before you whip your cream. Real cream takes a bit longer to whip than commercial toppings. If you chill your bowl and beaters, your cream will whip faster and will hold the peaks longer.
Add your cream to a deep or large bowl. If your bowl is too small, you’ll find that the beaters will flip cream all over the place… and on you. As a child… we had a “whipping cream” bowl that was not wide but deep. Cream was the only ingredient it ever held. That ancient bowl, from my childhood, is in the possession of my sister Sheila… and is used for the same purpose.
Now… here is the important tip: Do not add the sugar or flavoring to the whipping cream until you have whipped the cream a bit. Turn your beaters on high, and whip the cream until it begins to thicken. When you see a change in the consistency of the cream, or a thickening, beat for a few seconds more before adding the 3 tablespoons of sugar. If you add the sugar and flavoring to the cream at the beginning… your cream will not whip properly… if at all.
Add 1 tes. of vanilla or 1/2 tes. of maple flavoring.
Continue to whip the cream on high speed until it forms firm soft peaks. Don’t over whip… It can change to a butter consistency very quickly.
If by chance you do over whip the cream, and it looks a little like soft butter…. don’t despair…. there is a way to recover it.
Just add more whipping cream. You can fold it in by hand… your give it a quick run through with your beaters. Just don’t over beat again.
There you go. Fresh whipped cream for your dessert or pie.
P.S. I love to lick the beaters after whipping the cream. Don’t you?
P.P.S. Remember now… don’t add the sugar and flavoring to your whipping cream too soon. It’s the key to perfect whipped cream. I’ve added a video below so you can see the process in action of you want.
November 19, 2008
Thanksgiving placecards are a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table. I find the kids love to include this little extra decor to the place setting because they get to choose who they sit by.
Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is generally filled with fun family traditions. Our family customs bind us together and makes the holiday we are celebrating extra special.
One Thanksgiving tradition in our family is, the “setting of the table” the night before the big day. A few of my grand kids come to spend the night and help with the preparations. They clean up the folding tables and bring up extra chairs from the basement. They put the linen on the tables and bring out the good china, silver and goblets.
Thanksgiving is my 12 year old grandson Wyatt’s favorite holiday. He especially loves the whole turkey leg he puts on his plate. And, he wouldn’t miss the “night before tradition” for all the tea in China. He makes sure the younger kids “get it right” when it comes to the placing of the silver and napkins.
This year, they’re excited to add the palace cards. Hope everyone will enjoy who they will be sitting by.
Here are three colorful placecard options you can choose from. This is just a little way to include you in our “setting of the table” Thanksgiving tradition. Print them on card stock or photo paper. I like to print on a nice matte photo paper.
Let the kids print in the names and place them on the table… unless you know that Aunt Tilly would rather not sit next to Cousin Jon, who slurps his soup. You might have to give a bit of guidance here and there.
Hope you enjoy! Have a fun with your Thanksgiving Day preparations.
P.S. The Thanksgiving placecards are designed so you can use them for note cards. If you take a gift to your hostess, add this little card to your package or gift bag. Write in their name or “Happy Thanksgiving” in the space to be used for the name on the placecard.
November 18, 2008
Here are a couple of free Thanksgiving coloring pages for your kids to enjoy. Children love to participate in the Thanksgiving decorating… so here are a couple of projects they can be entertained by.
The pilgrim couple, “Bless Thee” and “Thank Thee” is the first project. They are door hangers the kids can color and hang on the front door or on their own bedroom doors… to welcome in the Thanksgiving season.
A full colored option is available too. Print them on card stock or photo paper. All the kids have to do is cut them out… thread a little ribbon in the top and hang them on the door to greet visitors.
The second project is “Old Tom Turkey” The younger kids can color him and tape him to their wall or post him on the fridge. Again…. a full colored option is available for those who just want to hang him up and get a little Thanksgiving spirit.
Here are your free printable Thanksgiving Coloring Pages. Download the links and print them on your printer.
Old Tom Turkey:
Hope your kids will enjoy.
P.S. Watch for your own Thanksgiving treat…it’s coming in a couple of days.
November 11, 2008
Besides making sure your automobile has plenty of coolant… you should consider having an emergency preparedness winter kit in your car.
Last winter, here in Utah, we had an unusual storm hit the “point of the mountain”, as we call it. This area is south of Salt Lake City, just as you enter Utah County. In the winter, it’s known for high winds, blowing snow, and treacherous roads.
The surprise storm hit in the late afternoon and continued through the night. Motorists were stranded on the freeway and side roads for many hours. Traffic on the freeway inched along and was often stopped dead still for hours. Many people spent the night in a convenience store parking lot.
My son, Brad was stranded on the freeway and couldn’t get home even though he could see his house from his car. He pulled off the freeway and spent the night at my daughter Katie’s home.
My daughter, Emily had run down to a local store to pick up a few items for dinner. All roads were closed by the time she left to go home. Even though she could see her sub-division from her car, there was no way to get there and, her kids were home alone. Emily was stranded for 8 hours Cell phones worked sporadically because everyone was tapping into the tower signal at the same time.
Emily’s four children, ranging in age from 4 to 13 were down stairs in their bedrooms when the lights went out. Groping in the dark for sometime, McKenzie was able to find a couple of candles and led her brothers upstairs where they waited until their folks could get home. Just a note here: Be aware your portable phones will not work when the light go out. Your home should have at least one land line phone.
After the storm was over, this event led our family to a winter emergency preparedness discussion.
In the case of Emily’s kids, better emergency lighting could have provided. It was agreed that Glow Sticks or Light Sticks (same thing… just different names), were the best way to provide lighting for children rather than candles. A glow stick is safe, non-toxic-non-flammable, weatherproof and inexpensive. Flashlights are great… but if your house is like mine… the batteries are always dead when I need the light.
By providing Light Sticks in strategic areas in your home, you furnish a means for young children to find their way about, if the electricity goes out. All the child has to do is, bend, break, and shake the stick… and Waaa Laaa… Light! We decided that a light stick in each child’s dresser drawer would be a good idea. Also, place one on a shelf or in drawer in every room of the house. This way, your child does’nt have to strike a match.
You can purchase glow stick that will last 4 hours, 8 hours and 12 hours. I’ve seen a few that will last 24 hours. The cost ranges from $.49 to $2.50 depending upon where you purchase them.
It was agreed that a winter emergency kit should be placed in the car.
Must Have: Winter coat, gloves, hat that covers ears, winter boots, socks, blanket and water. (Emily was in “heels” and had on a light jacket… or she would have attempted to walk home.)
Additions: Special needs such as insulin, medications etc.
Additions: Cell phone charger. Protein bars (not bars with lots of carbs because they’ll make you tired.) Nuts, (raw almonds keep best.) Flares, and glow sticks. Small camp shovel.
Additions for when you have to leave the car: Umbrella, (good protection against the wind). Ski mask, goggles. Hand warmers. (You can purchases these in a large package.)
For Children: Blankets, food for kids… like crackers and canned cheese. Water and juices… games. Sometimes mom’s put their kids in the car without shoes or a coat… thinking, “It’s warm in the car and I’m just going for a minute.” Make sure they’re dressed for an emergency situation, especially if the weather is threatening.
For Babies: Pack a diaper bag with bottles, formula, blankets, diapers, plastic bags, wipes and special needs.
There you go… I’m getting a head start on my winter emergency preparedness kit before the snow flies. Who cares if it looks a little miss matched as long as I’m warm and safe. I’m putting all of my gear in a duffel bag.
If you have any more ideas… leave us a comment. Love to hear from you.
P.S. It’s also suggested, during the winter months, you always keep your gas tank at least 1/2 full.
P.P.S. A winter emergency preparedness kit can make being stranded, because of poor weather, a little more comfortable… and in some cases, may save your life.
November 7, 2008
I was excited to have new carpet in my home. Little did I know that my Dyson Vacuum would eventually be accused of being “The Carpet Muncher.”
To make a long story short…Several years ago, I had a kitchen fire in my home the day before Mother’s Day. (Don’t leave bacon cooking while you go with your brother-in-law to the neighbors to discuss tearing down a fence.)
After the many months of turmoil dealing with clean up, insurance agents, carpenters and painters, the last workers left. I was happy to settle in and enjoy my new kitchen, new wall paint and new carpet. Little did I know, a “Carpet Muncher” was hiding in my closet.
I had selected a shag carpet and the strands were about one inch long. I understand that when a carpet is new, the carpet will shed a bit and, you will get a fair amount of loose fibers in your vacuum canister. But, for only a short period of time. However, I become concerned when I couldn’t get through the entire house without having to empty my Dyson Vacuum canister several times. I began to save the carpet fibers when I emptied the vacuum and by Thanksgiving I had almost filled a 30 gallon plastic bag. The ends of the carpet had “bloomed” and flared. There was some serious carpet matting in the traffic areas.
I took the bag of fiber to the carpet dealer (who was also my disaster clean-up company.) They were surprised to see the contents of the bag. “Wow, I think something is the matter here.” They called the manufacture, who was Shaw Carpet, and told them of the problem. Shaw had never heard of anything like it before. An independent adjuster came to my home to evaluate the problem.
Several weeks later, Shaw Carpets informed us it was not a faulty carpet… it was my vacuum. “No, No, it couldn’t be… I owned a Dyson Vacuum.” My carpet dealer didn’t agree with the decision and went to bat for me. In the end, Shaw Carpet agreed to replace the carpet.
I think I just came under the wire, because shortly after that, I learned that Shaw does not guarantee their shag carpet if your vacuum has a beater bar. (You know… that little brush that goes round and round.)
I selected new carpet and, it came into the dealer’s wear house over a year ago. The new carpet was just installed a couple of months ago. (They had to fit it in between disasters… flood and fire. They’ve been busy folks.) In the mean time, I vacuumed rarely but, when I did, the canister always filled up quickly. The Carpet Muncher was at work.
During the last year, I’ve seen the same carpet shag in many homes. No where in the Shaw Carpet sample book does it warn against using a vacuum with beater bar or a Dyson. So Beware! Check with your dealer concerning the guarantee. I love my Dyson… but it looks like I’ll be trading it in…. “for a Shop Vac?”
My new selection is a short nap carpet… I’m through with the shag. The carpet installers said the the Dyson Vacuum is probably not the best vacuum to use. It’s suction is too strong and you can’t adjust the beater bar. (In other words.. it does too good of a job.)
My advice: Make sure you do your homework before you buy carpet of any brand!
P.S. My carpet was such a mess, I’m convinced it was defective and the Dyson vacuum didn’t help matters. The dealer and carpet layers agree. Apparently Shaw Carpet must have agreed also… for which I’m grateful. Thank you! And… I like my new carpet.
P.S.S. That little pile of something in the picture… is some of the carpet fiber from the very last vacuuming
November 7, 2008
Is it fall yet? You wouldn’t think so if you saw the beautiful flowers that are still blooming on my front porch. If it weren’t for a little crispness in the air… you would think it’s mid summer.
I love begonias. In August, as soon as the weather began to cool down, they came on strong. I always get a little melancholy as fall approaches and the leaves on the trees begin to turn yellow. I know, my begonias will soon droop and the flowers will turn brown with the first frost.
Is it fall yet? Of course…. my beautiful River Birch tells me its so, by it’s golden attire. This birch is amazing. It’s a blaze of color one day and the next day…. boom… the leaves are down. This tree tells me it’s fall… time to rake, clean up and get ready for… oh no… snow. It seems like I just shoveled snow a couple of days ago.
I think I’m a little confused. My front porch says it’s summer… my back yard says it’s fall.
I vote for summer!
P.S. The weather man just announced a cold front coming through. I guess I have been out voted.
P.P.S. I’m a die hard. I’m taking in my hanging baskets tonight. I’m sure we have a few warm days left. Don’t we?
November 6, 2008
Registering a child’s domain name is becoming more and more common these days. Some couples are receiving their baby’s domain name registration as a gift. At the cost of about $10.00 a year, couples will invest about $160.00 for the domain registration to remain valid until the child reaches sixteen years old.
Not a bad investment, if you consider a domain name for your child’s name to be important. The first web site was put on the web by Tim Berners Lee in 1991. 108 million sites have been added since then and, several thousand sites are added everyday. Let’s face it… the Internet isn’t going away.
Surprisingly, no government or central authority controls the World Wide Web… thank goodness. This allows free enterprise and trade to have no barriers. Private companies such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN regulate their own search engines, putting their own restrictions in place.
Off-line business are joining the World Wide Web as a means of supporting their companies bottom line. Social sites and blogs are growing in popularity as a means of meeting people with like interests and, businesses are using them as a means of networking. So what does this mean to your child?
Even though your baby will may not use the domain name for several years to come, having your child’s digital identity already established provides an easy-to-remember, personal or business web address, when the time comes.
You may want to consider this important step for yourself too. It makes it possible to have an e-mail address without all the numbers if you have a common name. Since blogs are becoming more and more popular as a means of communication between friends and family members, having your own domain name will become increasingly more important for those who want to be easily located.
If you’ve ever tried to register a domain name for your business, you probably realize that finding one that’s not already taken can be difficult. Having your own Web business in your name is becoming increasingly vital… as it will be for your child.
If your decide to register your child’s domain name, make sure you put privacy precautions in place. Companies, such as Go Daddy, allow domain buyers to register anonymously. In other words, you don’t have to make your child’s name, address and other contact information accessible to the public.
The most prized address is “YourChildsName.Com” Next is “YourChildsName.Net” I don’t think “YourChildsName.Gov” is a very good idea unless you know he’s going to be the President of the United States.
Some folks don’t think it’s wise to register their children’s names… but… I’m giving you this little bit of information so you can at least weigh the consideration.
P.S. Sorry… KathrynGriffiths.com is already taken… by me!
P.S.S. When Britney Spears announced the name of her last child, someone registered the name immediately… I’m sure…hoping to cash in on the possibility she’ll pay “big bucks” to buy it back.
November 4, 2008
Forcing flower bulbs for Christmas gifts is a great idea for a simple inexpensive gift. Get your kids involved… this project makes a great teacher gift. It’s a gift the teacher can leave in the classroom and class members can enjoy the gift too. I’m offering your free gift tags with instructions for your Christmas gift recipient.
Not all flower bulbs are good for forcing. Hyacinths, Crocus, Daffodils, Tulips, Amaryllis, and Narcissus (Paperwhites) are the best. Often, the packaging will tell you if the bulbs can be forced.
At this time of year, you can purchase bulbs at Wall-mart in packages. However, I love going to a nursery where the bulbs are displayed in bins and I can pick and choose my bulb sizes.
The prices vary. You can spend from $1.00 to $15.00 per flower bulb. I look for bargains. Sometimes the best deal are in packages… however you run the risk of getting bulbs that are too small for this project.
Hyacinths, Crocus, Daffodils, and Tulips require a “chilling period or cold period” before they will bloom. If you’re going to purchase these spring flowers, purchase them right away and place them in a cold spot. They will need to be chilled for a couple of months.
I put mine in my extra fridge. However, I don’t store them in the crisper where there is produce. Ripening veggies and fruits release ethylene gas, which can kill or damage the flowers.
The easiest bulbs to force are tropical narcissus (paperwhites). They require no pre-chilling. However… just to be on the safe side… I do chill mine for at least a couple of weeks.
Purchase your bulbs… then look for appropriate containers. You can sometimes purchase bulb vases at your local nursery. Or… you can pile the kids in the car and go to the thrift store and look for vases. The vase opening needs to be wide enough that half of the bulb will sit in water. Take your bulbs along so you get the right fit.
After the bulbs are chilled, place your bulbs in the vases… with the pointed end up. Make sure the bulb sits down into the vase so at least 1/3 of the bulb will be submerged in water. Fill the vase with water and put it in a well lit window. The flowers will appear within 4 weeks.
See how I grow!
Put a bulb in a clear bag with a bit of confetti, and tie it up with a bow. Remember to attach your instruction tag. Place you bulb and vase in a Christmas bag with a little tissue and… there you go!
I’m offering you two instruction tag choices. The first selection includes a pink, yellow, blue, and lavender tag. They can be used on a birthday or “Love you” gift. There is a green set of tags that are ideal for Christmas.
Simply fill in your information below and you will receive your download links immediately. In the future, I’ll be sending you all kinds of ideas and fun printables. You’ll never have to give me information again. The holidays are coming… and you won’t want to miss out.
P.S. Remember to get out and get your flowering bulbs so you’ll have time to chill and cool them.
After you package up your gift… keep them in cool until you give them to your friend or loved one.
P.P.S. Remember to save some flowering bulbs for yourself. There’s nothing like a breath of spring in February or early March.
Hey… I couldn’t pass up showing you this last idea. Fill a bowl or a shallow dish and place bulbs in rocks. You can get rocks in the aquarium section of Wal-mart or at a nursery. Just remember to keep the water level up around your bulbs. You can plant them in soil too. Another story for another day.