Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Oh Yum!"

Feeding my guys when they come home from a Sunday meeting

Making nice meals for my family is really rewarding to me! Dinner time is a gathering time—Daddy comes home from work, teenagers come home from their activities, those at home have been busy helping me cook, and as each chair is pulled up to the table, the room is noisy, happy and full of connection and togetherness. "Oh, yum!" . . . "this is my favorite, Mom!" . . . "thank you so much" . . . It is very satisfying to have a delicious hot meal ready for my family, especially when it is cold outside. It seems to be a way of administering to their relief, to comfort my family members and help fulfill their needs. And we have such a good time eating together.

I like healthy food. Nutrition (and keeping my children in glowing health) is one of my interests, so I am always trying to finagle a way to swap out sugar, white flour, white rice, and other vitamin-empty foods for whole grains, and honey or another natural sweetener. Sometimes I go way too far, like the time my chocolate chip cookies came out like biscuits. Nobody liked. But often, the results are satisfying and tasty, and I feel like I have had a victory, of sorts!

The other day, I made a batch of whole wheat bread dough. I baked 4 loaves, and then made scones for Navajo Tacos for dinner. But I still had dough left. What to do? I pulled it out thin onto an oiled cookie sheet and without a recipe—like an artist painting a picture—I topped it with crushed tomatoes, sprinkled on dried basil, Italian seasoning herbs, garlic powder, and then added sliced onions and sliced mushrooms. I baked it and took it out early because I thought I'd finish cooking it the next day so it would be hot for lunch. To my surprise, it was absolutely the best! The shorter cooking time made a soft tender crust that was delicious. I can't imagine a tastier pizza had it been white dough for the crust. This was whole wheat at its yummiest. It tasted so good that we decided to eat it for breakfast the next morning, which we happily did!

Administering to our families in a loving way. Food. It goes together. Being a comforter. It is a good job, and I like it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lip Gloss, Vanity and What Really Matters


My mother says she doesn’t care
About the color of my hair
Or if my eyes are blue or brown
Or if my nose turns up or down.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

My mother says she doesn’t care
If I’m dark or if I’m fair
Or if I’m thin or if I’m fat.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

But if I cheat or tell a lie
Or do mean thing to make folks cry,
Or if I’m rude or impolite
And do not try to do what’s right,
Then that really does matter.

It isn’t looks that makes one great.
It’s character that seals your fate.
It’s what you are within your heart, you see,
That makes or mars your destiny.
And that really does matter.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

What's It Like to Be a Boy?

My son Ammon is a sensitive, intelligent boy who loves plants. He is a careful 17-year-old, and he has been working studiously on his budget. I noticed that his budget includes a monthly allowance for "breaking things". I was amused that he would list such an expenditure, but over the days since we talked about his budget, I have had a taste of what it would be like to be a teenage boy.

Not ripping your clothes is a constant challenge. Somehow barbed wire just jumps out at you when you walk by. Outreaching knobs and latches snag your clothes when you pass. Your pants end up with holes in them. Your buttons rip off when you wrestle.

Dishes slip out of your newly-large hands. Pictures on the wall just seem to slide off when you walk near them. Even ceiling moutned light fixtures are not safe from a boy's antics. Keeping a watch on your arm while doing boy things is always tricky. That is, if you don't lose it first.

Not breaking things is extra difficult. Yesterday alone included dropping a sharp object on the kitchen floor and denting it, and then dropping a stapler on the hardwood table and denting it. Perhaps it has to do with the need to do science experiments with every thing you handle. Last summer's breakage expenses included a truck window. Ammon was loading firewood onto the back of someone's truck as a service project, and accidentally jammed a log against the back of the cab window, shattering it. That was a pricey budget deduction. Last month, it was a broken bow to his violin. Whatever it is, breakage is a real and ongoing issue for boys!

My current theory is that teenage boys are kids in mens' bodies, and still trying to learn to handle and direct all the sudden and unexpected muscle power. They mean well, but things do break ever so easily when you are a teenage boy!

Mom, don't get too mad at your teenage or soon-to-be-teen boys. They really don't mean to break a thing. They really mean to be very sensitive and very careful. It is just all this strength unleashed . . . it is hard to keep it in good control! It feels like driving a car for the first time. These boys will soon be men and off on important duties. Enjoy now!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

My daughter Emily serves up some yummy hot soup!

Here's a quick and delicious soup that can be made mostly from your pantry. The only thing fresh you need is broccoli and cheese.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
4 cup diced broccoli
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried onions
4 cups chicken broth
scant 1/3 cup cornstarch
1 and 1/8 cup non-instant dry milk powder (or 2 cups instant dry milk)
3 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook broccoli in 2 cups water with onions and spices until tender. Put 4 cups of broth, cornstarch and dry milk powder into a blender and blend until smooth. Add to broccoli and cook until thick. Stir in 2 cups cheese and transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the soup. Serves 6. Yummy, filling, easy!

Baked potato topping:
Don't add the cheese to soup, but serve the soup as a thick gravy over a baked potato, topping with grated cheese.

Company dinner:
You can make this into a gourmet main dish by adding grilled chicken cubes and serving over brown rice.

Brown rice is delicious and very healthy. When I cook brown rice, I measure 2 cups of water (or broth) for every cup of rice. Then I shake some wild rice in, for a gourmet touch: 1/4 to 1/2 cup is just right. I also add a few tablespoons dried onions, dried diced carrots, and dried parsley. This makes the rice colorful and tasty. 1 cup of brown rice plus 2 cups liquid and about 40 minutes cooking time will give you 3 cups of moist brown rice. Don't take the lid off. Just cook over medium heat until the rice absorbs the water and is tender. Ummm, perfect!


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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Feed the Birds

I hate to throw out my Christmas tree!

We always want the scent and thrill of having a real, fresh Christmas tree but it is still green and lovely when January rolls around and it seems such a shame to just discard the thing that gave us such joy a week earlier! What to do?

A few years ago, we started a tradition of putting our tree outside on our deck right up next to the glass door with a bird feeder hanging on it, or with balls of bird seed. We leave the lights only on, and leave it right in its stand. The lights look cheery out in the snow at night. And during the day, we watch the birds gather in the tree and it is so fun to see them hop from limb to limb. Sometimes there are 6 or more birds in the tree at the same time! They find shelter from the snow storm under its boughs and have a party feasting on bird seed when the weather is fine. It is very entertaining watching them from just a few feet away indoors while we are eating meals. That Christmas tree is still bringing us (and a bunch of birdies) lots of joy!

Bird Seed Balls
Cut a length of yarn, fold back on itself and put a big slip knot in the bottom. Mix 2 cups of bird seed with 1/2 cup of lard, peanut butter or shortening (or a mix of all three). Gathering it like a little snowball, form a ball around the knot of the yarn. Gently hang or rest the balls on the limbs of the tree. The cold weather outdoors will firm them up and make them less fragile. These are a feast for hungry birds that need the fat for winter survival!

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