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Monday, May 30, 2011

Meal Time Mondays

It's that time again....hopefully the following will turn your frown upside down.

What's for dinner this week?

Memorial Day BBQ
Burgers and hot dogs on the grill
Grilled corn (soak the corn in the husk w/o the silk, for 30 minutes. Flavor as usual and grill in husk for 20 min.)
Baked Beans (Bush's are awesome if you don't want to make from scratch)

Strawberry Shortcake for dessert


Shepherd's Pie
1 lb. hamburger seasoned with onion flake, cooked and drained
1 c. frozen veggies
1 1/2 c. mashed potatoes (instant work fine)
1/2 c. shredded cheese
1 c. brown or turkey gravy

Layer meat, veggies, gravy, potatoes and cheese in that order. Bake in a 9 x 9 dish at 350 deg. for 30 min.
This is so good even my picky eaters eat it. To make this stretch further, use 2 c. veggies, 2 c. potatoes and 1 1/2 c. gravy and bake in a 9 X 13 pan.

Chick Pea Pasta
1 15 oz. can chick peas
1 loop sausage, cut into slices
1 pkg. favorite pasta, cooked
1 bottle of Alfredo sauce
parmesean and pepper to taste.
Cook the pasta according to directions. In a separate pan put 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the sliced sausage. Sear the sausage until browned. Heat the Alfredo sauce and chick peas in a pot until heated through. After draining pasta return it to pot you cooked it in, add sauce with chick peas and meat. Heat thoroughly if needed.

French toast
Scrambled eggs
Yogurt and fruit parfait

Happy Eating

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Things They Say

Quote for the day:

"It's the joy in the journey that matters more than the end result." ~ Andy Larsen

I am not kidding. He actually said this today to me. My repetitive rhetoric must be rubbing off on someone. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gift Tags

Thank you so much to those of you who've purchased my plate stands, and for those of you who've shared your feedback. I'd love to hear from more of you. I made one of the stands for a couple of our friends who just got married. I was thinking of what a cute tag would be and thought I'd share. Maybe if I can figure out how to post a PDF file I will make these downloadable so all you have to do is click and print.

Wedding Tags
~Marriage is a piece of cake if you remember to compromise. Best Wishes!
~ Remember why you married your sweetheart and life will be delicious~
~ A marriage to a good partner is like getting to have your cake and eat it too!

Birthday Tags
~Thanks for sharing your Sweet Day with us~
~Life is short. Eat Dessert First!~
~Happy Birthday to a friend who takes the cake~
~Happy Birthday to a sweet friend (or sister, or mom, whatever)

Teacher Thank You Tags
~You've made this year a piece of cake!~
~Thanks for a sweet year!
~It's been sweet being in your class~

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vintage Inspired Cake Stands by Kate's Creations

Most of you know that I am a cupcake nut! I love to make them, add things to them, decorate them and of course, eat them!

I've come up with a way to display them and am offering these one-of-a-kind cake plates to you. Announcing the launching of my e-company:
 ~Kate's Creations~

 These first two, pictured above are the same plate. I just wanted to show the cute detail of the plate. I realize the plate has apples, not cupcakes, but to give you an idea of what your plate would look like all filled up and ready for guests I am using apples.

 This is a two-tiered Sunburst design. This could be used as a relish or dip tray, or a candy dish too.

This above plate design is a clear plate with clear glass bead accents. The accents are also available in blue, green, red and yellow.
This is the monogram plate, selling this week for $13. The mongoram is metal. I also have chipboard, which can be designed with black, red, white, or can be customized for you.
I am in the process of opening my own online store, but wanted to offer my first designs to you. I've checked out my competition and these plates sell on etsy from about $15 to $65. I am offering these first designs for $10 a plate stand through Memorial Day 2011. These make great wedding presents or shower gifts or birthday presents. The ones I am using as birthday gifts have 6-8 cupcakes on them and I wrapped the whole thing in cellophane and tied it with a bow.

Since they are each one-of-a-kind you'll find you options here:
Plate Option:
Sunburst (clear with design like the two tiered dish above)
Bone ceramic with dot embellishment
Plain white

Stands are glass bases either the cut crystal version above or a chunky wider base is also available.

One tier or two

Embellishments: (Which are $1-$3 extra)
Glass bead embellishments in white, red, yellow, green or blue, or a combo
Special Message
Or anything you can imagine

Shipping is additional, unless you live by me, and then you can come get it.

Don't you want one? When they go on my online shop they will be between $20 for one tier and $30 for two, depending on what embellishments you want. All are one-of-a-kind and it will make a unique gift.

Prices for orders make via a comment on this blog or email ( are $10 for a single tier and $12 for a double tier. Embellishments are extra. At this time I accept cash only. Please contact me if you'd like to place an order.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Planning, Planning, Planning

A few weeks ago I met a "hero" of mine, Wendy Paul. She's the author of "101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes" and a couple of other awesome cookbooks. She has a great website full of awesome recipes, not just cupcakes. She is truly a remarkable person and it sounds lame, but she inspires me. Each Monday she shares what their family is eating for the week, yes, she's a planner! Maybe that's why I worship her?!?

She includes the recipes too. There are so many sites that I get my dinner ideas from, but am always looking for new ones. So I've decided to compile some menus here, maybe each week if I get organized enough, I will add our weekly menus. Dinner isn't just about cooking, it's more about planning. Here's the basics:

1- Decide what type of shopping works for you. I go once a month for the main stuff and plan my meals for the month according to what's on sale that week. We save just in doing that, but I usually add coupon deals into this shopping list. I know it sounds like a lot, but really once you figure out the method it's a snap. If anyone would like one-on-one help, please contact me. I promise it's worth it.

2- Shop your pantry or food storage. See what things you have to make already. Sometimes you just need one or two things to make a meal. If you know this ahead of time you won't over buy. I bring the stuff up from storage that I am going to use that week so I don't have to run up and down 100 times just to make dinner. Although I do have helpers that do a lot of my running for me.

3- Once you've made a list--yes, plan what you are going to buy and how you are going to use it. Plan your meals. You can plan a week at a time, or a whole month, or even a whole year. I plan mine on a blank, computer printed calendar and I use pencil. Why is this important? Because sometime I don't feel like Tuna Casserole on Monday or Enchiladas on Friday. I keep a list on my calendar of meals I have ingredients for and then assign it a day just so I can have things ready. If I decide I don't want what's on tonight's menu, I swap for another night and get my ingredients ready for that meal instead. Make sense?

4- So now you know what your making, what you need to buy and about when you plan on eating it. You now need to go get it. I break my list into sections according to the way my store's laid out. I figure many times I have little people with me, so get in and out asap. You can organize it anyway it make sense to you, but just try and keep things that are alike together so you don't have to go back to aisles over and over.

5- Once I've purchased all my stuff, I take it home. I do some prep work as I am putting it away. I marinade some meat for future meals, break my meat into meal portions, cut up veggies for the week and stock my fridge with the stuff I am using in the next few days. The rest goes into the freezer or storage for the upcoming weeks.

I know it sounds complicated, so let me help. Here's our menu for the week, in no particular order.

Tuna Casserole

Alabama Chicken from Wendy Paul
6 fresh chicken cutlets or 12 chicken tenders
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
1-2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt

Place chicken on lightly greased baking sheet or 9x13- inch baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine spices and mix well. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the top of your chicken, and place in the oven at 375 degrees to bake for 35 minutes if you are making chicken cutlets, or 15-20 minutes for chicken tenders.
Mix together the remaining spices with the mayonnaise until well combined. Set asideWhen the chicken is mostly done baking, remove it from the oven and spread the mayo and spice sauce on top generously. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Serve while still warm.

Chicken Enchiladas

Grilled Chicken with grilled veggies- this is one easy meal. Wash your veggies and mix them with salt, pepper or lemon pepper, 1 Tbsp. olive oil and either put in grill pan or in tin foil. I use carrots, onions, potatoes, squashes and/or tomatoes. For the chicken I either use a McCormick spice packet or 1/2 c. of salad dressing--Italian or Raspberry Vinaigrette work well.

Baked Ziti

That's our main week. We'll see what the weekend brings. Now you are thinking "I don't have time to plan all that every week." No fear, just visit this site for weekly plans and ideas. If you don't like what is on my plan there are literally hundreds of recipe and meal planning websites out there. Either way, once you've found a method that works for you, you will save time, money and energy doing an often mundane, but necessary task. Don't be afraid to get the whole family involved--maybe you'll even make some memories.

What's for dinner at your house?

Friday, May 20, 2011

When God Closes a Door, He Opens a Window

Holy crap. I mean, really this is a miracle. I was just sitting here thinking how much alone time I've spent without a spouse the last month, and how much is yet to come over the next few weeks and I see this. I know I'm not the only one out there who feels this way. When I originally thought about starting this blog I was going to call it "The Married Church Widow" because although I am married I see my spouse not too often due to his job(s) and calling as Scoutmaster. I am still struggling with his calling and sometimes with the whole church thing, but this article really made me feel like I am not alone, and there are plenty of you moms out there that are just like me. I hope the following helps someone else as much as it has me.

Helping Married Mothers, Who Sometimes Feel Single
By: Self-Worth Analyst, Karen Eddington

Here are the top five problems facing single-married-mothers, and some solutions to help them cope.
Problem 1:   Exhaustion
Solution 1:  Know your fuel. One of the common struggles we all face is trying to replenish our physical, spiritual and emotional strength.  Do you know what gives you energy?  Every mother needs to find out for herself what her fuel is.  Some women use scrapbooking, others paint.  Some women simply need to read a story to her child and she finds strength, where others need to take a walk in the sunshine. 

Problem 2: Feeling alone
Solution 2: Be a scientist for a day.  Try and prove your negative thoughts wrong.  You may have used statements like: “I can’t do this.”   “I have no life”  “I am unfulfilled.” “I’m a bad mother.”  “I don’t matter.”  “I have to do it all.”  Look at these statements and try and prove them false.  Correct your thinking by saying things like, “I do matter.  I am vital in the lives of my children.  The daily tasks I do, matter. ”

Problem 3: Loss of Identity
Solution 3: Embrace self-creation.  When we change diapers, negotiate bedtime, clean gum out of hair, battle teen cell phone bills, or scrape crayon off walls we sometimes stop and think, “who am I?”  Mundane duties of parenthood can make us feel stuck and forget our favorites.  From the moment we are born until the moment we die we will have opportunities to create our identity and character.  In your life circumstances you can continually shape who you are and become what you want to be.

Problem 4:  Feeling Hopeless
Solution 4: Look forward. The feeling of despair is often associated with thoughts that, “this is never going to end.”  If you are feeling convinced that your problems are going to go on forever you can fight despair by recognizing this isn’t going to be forever.  Find things to look forward to.

Problem 5: Strain on marriage
Solution 5:  One-a-day. Even if your paths cross briefly through the day, if your spouse is deployed in the military, if your spouse travels for work, and especially when you are both tired find one thing you can do daily for your relationship.

Karen Eddington is an author, self-worth researcher and founder of a community program teaching women and teens to build a stronger self-esteem.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Funny Moment

We ran errands with the kids last night and of course J. and D. had to pee. What is it with kids and sudden urges at the most inopportune times? D. has literally been on a tour of every bathroom at Wal-Mart, Target, Smith's and Harmon's from Sandy to Provo. She actually rates them as her "favorites" or "not so much my favorite." Not joking.

Anyway I took the two kids to the bathroom and Jack had to go in the men's cuz he's a man now, apparently. Of course D. wasn't done by the time he was, so I made him come into the women's bathroom to wait. He looks at the wall and says, "Dang. I should have brought my quarters so I could buy some of those." I am not going to explain further, other than to say he would never have to spend his money on "one of those," well, at least not until he's married. Note to future Jack: The big silver machines in women's bathrooms are not full of candy. Love, Mom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Share a Talent

After the hair cutting incident last week, and a few other choice experiences I won't mention, I am looking forward to another fun filled week. We got part of our yard looking acceptable again. I had a great teaching moment with the twins about how to dig a hole, break up flower roots and plant a flower in the ground properly. Ironically my neighbor Julia stopped by that night and asked me to share the talent of "my green thumb" with the women in our church group. I laughed and said, "Oh, it's hard. You dig a hole and put the thing in the ground, give it some water, and that's that's."  After agreeing to share my knowledge I got to thinking how I even knew about the proper planting of petunias, and other things.

It brought me back to a memory I have as a young, 10-year-old girl following my Dad around Marvin's Gardens and learning what kinds of flowers were what, where they grew best and he even let me pick colors and types that would go in our yard. I also remember visiting his cousin Bob and Uncle June and seeing their beautiful yards. I remember how excited my mom was when Bob would generously share his veggies. It's no wonder I always had an amazing yard growing up because these men, along with my great-grandma Daisy passed their knowledge to my Dad, and he, most likely inadvertently, passed it to me.

It wasn't until Andy & I bought our first house that I had hands on experience in dirt. Dad was great to let us help with some things, but yard work was his territory. The first year in our first house we really set to working our land. We called our yard Babylon because it had been years since anyone had done anything to it. We weeded and planted and then it was ready to show off. My parents came over, and just like when I was little and my Dad would walk around the yard with me and my mom to show us the progress, he and I walked around my yard. He advised me on what types of plants I had and we even swapped a few ground covers, lilies and poppies. Then we came to a tall grassy plant. He asked me what it was and I didn't know. My mom inspected it further to determine that it was in fact a large weed. We immediately pulled it and haven't spoken of it since.

When it was time to move to our current house we knew we needed a backyard that had a veggie garden spot. We both felt it was our duty to be self-sufficient and to teach our children where food comes from and a bit about responsibility. So basically my "green thumb" came from some encouragement early on and some trial and error. I know that you don't need to plant 11 tomato plants, although I did learn a new talent that year--I learned to bottle them. I know, don't laugh high school friends. I can't make Jiffy Pop, but I can bottle tomatoes and dehydrate carrots. I have learned that my husband is a great gardener and will do whatever I ask if he can just find some peace and quiet while pulling weeds. Before this weekend I never realized that my garden was anything special, other than a quiet, late summer night retreat, but I guess it really is a talent to grow stuff and find effective ways to do it.

So I will grow my talent (yep, I'm a word nerd and the pun was intended) this year and try to propagate my own seeds from this year's crop. Then next year I will have a new generation of plant all my own. I just want to see if I can. 

What's your talent?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hairy Monday

Yesterday's Unexpected Mother's Day Surprise ...

Today's solution to yesterday's surprise.

Needless to say she's not happy, but is now fully aware of why we don't play with scissors.
She did admit last week when my scissors mysteriously disappeared and
then reappeared in her room that she'd cut her hair in the hallway too. Sweet!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I had a fabulous Mother's Day. We can never wait in this family until an actual holiday to celebrate, and this year was no exception. Andy came home on Thursday with a sheepish look that I know means trouble. He surprised me with a beautiful white gold chain for my Anniversary Diamond Pendant. The old chain was not my fave and uncomfortable to wear. I was blown away, especially since I track the finances--how could he have hidden hundreds from me?!? He's a genius and the element of surprise and thought he put into the gift was as special as the gift itself. Jack wrote me a poem, Sydney and Abby made coupon booklets and Danni picked me a bunch of flowers--dandelions. Her sweet face saying, "Look Mom, I got these for you. Happy Mother's Day." was enough to make me melt and put her "beautiful flowers" in a vase.

We also celebrated with our Grandmas for Mother's Day. I took the younger kids to the cemetery to "visit" Grandma Carrie. Then we had dinner with Andy's mom and had my parents over for a bbq. The food and company were wonderful and fun. I love that my kids will have lots of good memories of their grandparents.

The recipes from our fab feast are posted below. I am not a whiz in the kitchen always, but the food from our bbq was pretty delicious.

Crab Salad (this is approximation of amounts since I never measure and mostly just mess with it until it tastes right.)

1 bag coleslaw mix
1 lb. of crab, chopped
1 c. mayo
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix it all together and chill for 1-2 hours. Taste again before serving to balance flavors if necessary.

Fruit Salsa
1 lb. strawberries
2 kiwis
2 Fugi apples
1 orange, zest and juice
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Dice all the fruit up, except the orange and put in a bowl. Zest the orange and add the juice of the orange to the diced fruit. Stir in brown sugar and let flavors marinate for 1 hr. Serve with Cinnamon Chips.

Cinnamon Chips
1 pkg. tortillas
cinnamon sugar

Heat oven to 400 deg. Using a pizza cutter cut tortillas into triangles. Brush both sides of the triangles with water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake on each side for 4 min., until crisp.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 pkg. Spinach
1 c. sliced strawberries
1/2 red onion sliced or diced
1-2 cans mandarin oranges
bacon bits
sugared almonds

1/2 c. Canola oil
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Mix together and pour over salad before serving; OR you can buy Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing.

The weekend was super fun, until we got a call from Andy's dad saying he found a pair of scissors and some blond hair in his office. Oh crap!!

Nice Bangs. She got the sides too. Well, it's only hair and it will grow back.....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May Scrapbook Post

1. What am I eating for dinner today? Burgers, Crab Salad, Spinach salad, triffel
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Dad
3. What color did I wear today? Blue/Green
4. What was the last good thing I read? Jack's poem for me for Mother's Day
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Country Fair is over!!!
6. What's one thing I need to work on? budget
7. Today's best thought? Mother's Day was great this year--lots of surprises
8. One word to sum up today is? Fun
9. One worry or concern? budget planning w/ the husband on Thursday
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Celebrating Mother's Day

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Summer Vacation

5 weeks and counting til summer vacation

Time to get organized

What to do with 12 weeks of fun, minus 2 weeks of actual vacation?

I'm just throwing these ideas your way to help you keep your sanity. Here's some ideas to keep your kids happy and busy, and you from going crazy.

Even though it's summer we still have a schedule. It's more relaxed than when school's on and I don't like the idea of my kids laying around doing nothing but watching TV or playing the Wii all summer long.

Idea Day 1- Service Day: To keep us busy I am having the kids do something nice for someone else every week. Hopefully this will help them be a little more aware of others and as they grow up they will have a sense of community and unity with each other and the world around them. The stuff I have planned is really simple like befriending someone who needs it, taking a treat to a neighbor, cleaning out their closet and donating the stuff they don't use or writing a letter to a member of the military.

Day 2: Math day: keep their skills sharp by playing board games or dice games that include counting or math principles.

Day 3: Library Day: Visit to get new books and DVD's or music, or attend an event. Free--check your library's website for details.

Day 4: Play land: I don't love McDonald's food, but they have some play lands that are fun. Just get a small treat and let them run around for an hour.

Days 5-10: Short field trips: Obviously mix these into your calendar as you will, but you can kill some time, have some fun and make some memories enjoying local parks, splash pads and locations. Wheeler Farm, The Gale Center, a trip to the dollar store and picnics are all free or low cost and can be fun.

Day 11-20: Craft day: Again, as you want to mix these into your days, plan a craft to keep their hands busy. Anything from painting, chalk art and paper crafts to building a rocket or making a pie. Visit this blog for crafty ideas, or,, or

Day 21: Science Day: Collect bugs, watch the sky, blow bubbles-or make your own, make a volcano, bake a cake or make dinner. Do something creative with stuff around the house.

Day 22: History Day: Take a tour of the state capital, or your local area attractions to see how your city came to be. Learn about your family history and what you have in common with your ancestors. Visit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints museums in downtown SLC (if you're lucky enough to be close).

Day 23: Pools: Lots of local pools with inexpensive admissions. Don't forget the sunscreen. Or set up a pool party in your yard and invite your friends. Think sprinklers, wading pools, slip n slides, Popsicles and squirt guns.

Day 24: Sports Day: Go bowling, play capture the flag, kick the can or basketball. Have a jump rope contest, a hula hoop contest or hide and seek. These games are as fun for mom and dad as they are for kids.

Day 25: Movie Day: Rent a redbox, or borrow one from the library or a neighbor. Or set up your video camera and make your own.

Day 26-36: Big Field Trip day: Visit a museum, planetarium, aquarium, ghost town (Mercur and Ophir, Utah), Nickelcade or arcade, Peppermint Palace, Thanksgiving Point, Gardner Village, mini golf, Hollywood Connection, Cherry Hill, Lehi Legacy Center, local city rec centers or local ice cream shops. A bit more money than some of your other daily fun, but also a great bargaining chip to help little ones behave during the week.

Day 37: Backyard camp out: Set up a tent, or sleep on the tramp and watch the stars. Tell stories, scary or not, and don't forget the smores. Eat dinner outside and play games.

Day 38: Scavenger/Treasure Hunt: We played a great game for the twins' birthday this year. A mix of Amazing Race and Minute to Win It. Make up clues, get some treats and use your imagination.

Day 39: Take a break and go on a little trip to a nearby town. Stay the night at a local hotel, or just go to grandma's for the weekend.

Day 40: By this time you've made so many memories you should take a day to scrapbook your pictures and have each person journal an entry as to the memories they've made this summer. And of course, visit our blog often for more creative, fun ideas.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Awesome Things

I heard about this book a bit ago called "The Book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha. It's a brilliant book about all the awesome things that happen in  life that we miss because we are focused on the many negative things surrounding us. Neil wrote this book when his life was in a bit of a downward spiral, a close friend was terminally ill and his marriage was on the outs. He started a list of things to keep a positive direction in his life and listed it on his blog, which became a book. Today he released a second book, "The Book of (even more) Awesome."

Teachers and religious leaders around the country have caught onto Neil's ideas and spread that positive energy into their lives and the lives of those they inspire and teach. Kudos to you Neil (yeah, I realize he'll never read this) for helping us remember basic, simple, brilliant things that make life, well, awesome.

In the book he lists awesome things like the smell of baking bread, finding money in your pocket and the giggle of a kid on a swing. He also lists big things like best friends getting married, a new baby and finding out you're Cancer Free.

I think this concept is a great discussion starter to have with my friends and family. What a great way to forget about the huge problems we all face daily and have a minute of happiness.

I am taking this awesome inspiration and bringing it to our dinner table tonight. What a brilliant way to catch memories and spread a little joy.

My Awesome Things
Lip gloss
Red Velvet cakes
Making all the green lights
Fresh raspberries from my garden
Dinners that I don't have to make

Monday, May 2, 2011

History Made

After my Ponzi scheme discussion with the twins a few weeks ago, I was not looking forward to discussing the history made yesterday. Osama Bin Laden is gone! And just shy under a decade.

Great job military and leaders around the world who've supported this endeavor. What I didn't expect  without warning was to see were bloody pictures of the rooms he was shot in, with the blood all over. Hi Diane Sawyer how about "the pictures you are about to see may be disturbing to some viewers. Parents are cautioned." No, just here's some pictures of what went down when our military went in and did their job.

Enter two curious ten year-olds. "Mom, what's that?" Me, "That's what our guys did to level the playing field after 9-11." Them, "That was 10 years ago. They got the guy?" Me, "Yes. The world is a little safer place today because of the men who caught him." Them, "I thought you didn't like the idea of the war in Iraq." Me, "Ok, time for school."

No time for political commentary here. Regardless of my distaste for past decisions of our leaders, Bin Laden was a terrorist and deserved what he got. There will be others to take his place, but at least we can all feel a bit more secure knowing patience and perseverance pays off. And no matter what your political views are we should give thanks and pray for the men and women who serve and have served our country every day all over the world. They are the reason I can say what I want, where I want, and how I want without fear of censorship or exile. THANK YOU BRAVE AMERICANS.

Take a minute today to share a memory or thought with your family and friends about the amazing opportunity it is to be an AMERICAN.