this used to be our family blog entitled "British Royalty versus the Ramsey Clan" (since i'm descended from King Edward II and jon is a descendant from the Ramsay Clan) but since jon never participated, and my mom is the only one who reads this, it is now a format for writing her letters. I mean, for writing you letters, mom.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dear Mom,

here is a photo of the indian food i made that i told you about in an email.  it's my favorite cuisine (besides italian) to make now.  mainly because i get to use sooooooooo many flavorful spices that smell (and taste) so amazing... plus it's always so low fat.  this day, i made spicy baked cauliflower & sweet and sour Balti shrimp:

a week ago, i went visiting teaching, and my partner is a photographer, and took some pictures.  this family (of the little girl i'm holding - who wears cute little girl glasses) is moving soon... the ward is very sad:

WE GOT FURNITURE!!!... which you know, because it's yours.  THANK YOU thank you THANK you!!!  we have never been more comfortable in our lives!  and now, our living room is my favorite - a beautiful burnt orange and gold.  i love even just looking at it.  

that night, we all lounged and watched about four movies together:

margie can't decide which couch to pick as her spot because she loves all the furniture too much.  she's doing really well being gentle on the furniture too.

phineas is in love with the orange loveseats and hiding underneath the big couch - just like our old cats used to do:

everybody enjoys a comfy nap now!

here's an awesome photo of me and jon; i don't know what happened to his face; maybe he had a disease that day:

and this was a day when i ate a big burrito.  i look so fat!  

5.5 months pregnant

yesterday, to spoil us both for father's day, jon practiced his Iron Chef gourmet skills... he boiled rice in chicken stock, marinated shrimp in an asian barbeque sauce he made up, grilled the shrimp on metal skewers over our gas stove, made little hearts out of the rice, topped with the shrimp, drizzled with the sauce reduction, and lightened it all up with cucumber shreds around the edges.  it was sooooooooooooooooooooo delicious:

a close-up

later, he made, from scratch, organic/free-trade hot-lava brownies (perfect gooey brownies with melty pieces of chocolate chunks in the middle oozing out heavenly).

he still insults himself that he can't cook or bake.  

i beg to differ.

Hope you have fun in Mississippi!  say "hey" to everyone for me!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dear Mom,

Jon and Tim have a tradition where they buy their nieces and nephews the most obnoxious gifts mainly to annoy the parents.  The funny thing is, the kids frequently end up liking those gifts the best.
One morning, Margie was barking incessantly at the patio door, and i was back in the bedroom, so i yelled, "What on earth are you barking at!!?"  and i walked into the living room to find this on our patio, staring in:

I immediately knew it was Tim's doing.  And, i thought: "huh, the first obnoxious present , i guess."  So, i brought it inside and put it in the baby room.  Mind you, it was so big, i could barely get it through the sliding-glass door.  A few minutes later, i emailed jon a photo of it, and he wrote back saying, "you know, that was by the dumpster this morning... i thought of doing the same thing to tim."  Eeeeeewwwwwww... so, cooties and all, i rushed it back out to the dumpster.  Oddly a few hours later, it was in a garage of a family that stock piles all kinds of horded goodies.  I often wondered where they got all their stuff.

The other day, i decided to try to make "healthy" chocolate chip cookies.  And it was a SUCCESS!  i looked up recipes online using whole wheat flour, and tweaked them a bit and came up with my own recipe.  you HAVE to try them, especially if dad is craving a sweet treat.  They are completely whole grain, but NOT at all healthy tasting.  mmmmm they're so good, but with a little less guilt.  I did an experiment on the baking time... see it and recipe below...

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 egg 
1 Tbsp. molasses

(mix well, then add):

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour (or oatmeal flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
organic chocolate chips
chopped pecans

Oven: 375ยบ F
Bake: 8 min. for chewy cookies
11 min. for perfect cookies
12-13 min. for crunchy cookies

This morning, as i was walking out my patio door to take some picture of the plants you planted for me, in bloom now, a very brave, huge, beautiful butterfly was tasting all of my flowers... 

it kept letting me get closer...

and closer...

and closer...  and this was not taken with a close-up lens.  you can see its eyeballs in this photo!

...i stood there as long as it did, watching it uncurl its "tongue" into my "mini-petunias" (calibrachoa), and it seemed to prefer the purple ones.  he really didn't mind that i was watching him or taking pictures.  he let me get as close at a few inches away.  
it reminded me of the time i came home from school - kindergarten i think - one hot sunny afternoon, and spotted a monarch on the flowers that Marilyn Grover grew around the mailboxes.  I tiptoed so silently and slowly up to the butterfly and reached my arm so carefully, closer and closer, until i pinched it by its wings.  i was stunned i was able to catch it.  then i brought it to you and you "prepared" it for Erin Hill because she was a big kid in 6th grade and was collecting insects for science class.  i was glad i was able to help her out as only a 6 year old.

The plants are loving their new home where you planted them along my windows:

Sadly, a squirrel or some other animal dug up the bleeding heart and left a big hole like unfinished surgery on the ground.  So, i planted, in its place for now, the pink "we're having a girl" gerbera daisies:

People stop and stare at the new plants and blossoms as they walk in and out of the back door to our apartment building now.  the yellow flowers are doing exceptionally well, and the hydrangeas are growing rapidly... maybe i'll even get some blooms this year!