Saturday, September 20, 2014

Royals, Tony Taupe and Toddlerhood

1. When you have hours and hours of manual labor that needs to be done on your basement, it's clearly time to go to a baseball game. 

It's time to attempt to get through 6 innings with 2 lemonades and a bottled water....and a bag of smuggled Laffy Taffies.

Thank goodness for refills!

2. It is time to paint!!!

And paint and paint....

and paint.

The good new is that I never got around to painting the upstairs, so I had 3 cans of paint just sitting in the garage waiting for me. Score!

3. This is my baby.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I got my eye on the prize

The drywallers, mudders and tapers have come and gone. 

And the left quite a mess.

That isn't dust.  It was once wet and now it has dried and stuck itself onto the floor.

Here's a spot where a square drywall kept a spot "clean".

Time to get out the duct tape and face the music.

It took me two solid days of scrubbing, scraping and rag ringing, but I finally got to my last square. If I could have dug it up and framed it, I would have. 

It was hard work and I was glad to have it behind me. 

Next was painting the ceilings.

Not the funnest.

The girls were in for another couple days of playing on the concrete while I worked.

Everly dipped her finger in the paint and I thought it was sweet, so I didn't stop her....I mean, how bad could it be? She'll do a little finger painting!

Sometimes I wonder if I've ever met my children before.

Famlily recipes: Chocolate Lover's Favorite Cake

Before we started cutting down on our fat intake around these parts, we made this cake entirely to often. 

We're talking about the kind of frequency that brings about the ability to whip it up without looking at the recipe...even once.

Nowadays this is definitely a rare and wonderful treat. Mostly on a "dad holiday", since he is the one that loves it the most.

Chocolate Lover's Favorite Cake

1 devil's food cake mix
1 pkg chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz)
2 cups sour cream
1 cup melted butter
5 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10 inch Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in sour cream, melted butter, eggs and almond extract. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Blend in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. When the cake is cool drizzle chocolate mixture over the top:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup

Microwave for 30 seconds and stir till smooth

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Family recipes: Breakfast Stones

Breakfast Scones

1 1/2 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Combine these ingredients. Then cut in:

1/3 c shortening

Then add:

2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup rolled oats

Pat out on a greased cookie sheet or silpat (works great!) to 1 in thickness.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

*This recipe needs to be double for more than a few people. Tripled if the kids really like it, which ours do. 

This photo is of a doubled recipe:

It filled maybe 2/3 of a cookie sheet and my kids ate it up in minutes. Next time I'll triple the recipe and hopefully have some for an after school snack. A couple seconds in the microwave is perfect.

Always....always...always turn over and add butter and jam. To do otherwise is to disrespect the stones.

Everly knows the rules.

She's having a hard time with the one about not eating on top of the steps.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Evening up the score

Last May, I decided to fly out to Utah for Heidi's wedding to Jay. I was nervous about making my flight and Mark assured me that I needn't be at the airport too early. 

Unfortunately, I missed my flight and ended up spending the entire day in various airports waiting on flights....with a baby. 

Mark felt AWFUL.

I mean.....AW....FUL. 

I felt bad for how bad he felt. 

But my birthday gift to him this year was to even the score. No longer does he have to look back on the airport fiasco with that twinge of guilt. 

Because I forgot his birthday. I didn't forget forget. I remembered the night before and we had discussed what meal he would like and talked about presents (or lack thereof...yay for parenthood!). But in the morning I just got up and went about getting everybody ready for school and making lunches and going about business as usual and didn't say a single dang thing to that wonderful man. As I was driving down the road to take Megan into school (still going super early!), it suddenly hit me and I realized what a monumentally huge loser I am. 

I flipped a 'U'ie and raced back to give him a big hug and apologize for my lame-ness. 

ug. It's still killin me.

OY! I can't stop reliving it in my mind! The shame!

Well...let's move on to less unpleasant things.

 The cake! I think we are definitely entering fire-ball territory with the the candles.

His dinner of choice: BBQ Meatballs, loaded mashed potatoes, corn and sliced homemade bread.

Ethan was in bed with a high fever and Anna was feeling pretty bad as well. She decided to stick around for the food.  

See what I mean about the fireball?

I love what a ham he is for the kids.

He blew them all out in one breath!

He was so proud!

And then they started to relight themselves.

I love trick candles!

Happy birthday, Mark. You are the best of the best and I am SO VERY SUPER SORRY about forgetting your birthday this morning. I plan on getting way more sleep this year, so hopefully I'll be on my game by next September.

Love you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Family recipes: Kaira's Chicken Chili

This is one of the best things about fall.

Kaira's Chicken Chili

4 chicken breasts - cooked and diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a little oil

2 cans great Northern beans, drained
1 can chicken broth (or 2 cups)
1/2 c water
2 cans green chilis
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper

*Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes

Then add 1/2 c. milk and 1 c. light sour cream

Let rewarm and serve....with Jordan's Sweet Cornbread.

P.S. It should be known that I have changed this recipe a little bit to cut out some of the fat, which unfortunately cuts out some of the deliciousness. Those are called natural consequences.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Family recipes: Sweet Cornbread

This is one I got from Jordan. I think it's exactly as he gave it to me, but it's possible the sugar content has gone up....slightly...heh heh.

Sweet Cornbread

 1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder


1 egg
1 c milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix the wet and dry, pour into a greased dish (pie or squarish) and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. 

Awesome with Kaira's Chicken Chili! Which makes sense because Jordan and Kaira are like peas and carrots....or cornbread and chili....

awwww yeah.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sick day, crazy hair and crab apple juice

1. Here's the thing. Megan has a speaking part in the upcoming 4th grade play/musical/extravaganza. This is so wonderful for her and she is absolutely buzzing with excitement over the whole thing. Also, this means that for three solid weeks she has to be at school by 7:45 am (A M !). 

Now, Ethan and Mathew typically need to leave at 7:30 and Laney at 8:00. So, unless I am looking for a triple drop off every morning for 3 weeks, Megan is going a little early and Laney is hanging out with Megan at her rehearsal. That is the plan. 

We get up. We have scriptures, we get dressed and it is full steam ahead for breakfast, cold lunches, hair doos and we are out the door. 

On a normal day.

But today is Crazy hair day. So, naturally we need to think up the fantastical, whimsical and gravity-defying and make it happen. Preferably before 7:30.

It's possible some of them didn't get breakfast. 

Cupcake head and Megamind inspired piggy tails.

2. Once all the crazies were gone to school, it became apparent that Everly was running a fever. She wasn't feeling herself:

We declared it a stay-at-home-stay-in-pajamas kind of day.

I whipped up a little chocolate syrup to add to her milk. "Choca" will most likely keep her hydrated and sugared up enough to keep her little body fighting whatever germs she licked off of the grocery cart.

P.S. My brain knows that this photo is of Everly, but it sure looks like Anna to me! She is getting so big!

3. I finally opened the juicer that my mom-in-law gave to me and I've been juicing crab apples all day! I love it! I feel like I'm back home in Payson and watching the hot concord grape juice pour into the sterilized quart jars. And the smell is amazing.

(I didn't even know that crabapples could be this big...ours were like the size of a quarter...)

Now I just need to figure out how to turn the juice into the famed crabapple jelly.

4. Mark is in Utah getting ready to run his 4th Tough Mudder. This time he'll be running with Mat (brother, not son), Jenny, and her son Josh. They are running in honor of Jenny's husband, Scott, who passed away this year from a heart attack. Scott and Jenny had just started training for it when he died. They were able to transfer his registration to one of his sisters and she will be running in his place. I'm hoping they all have a great time and it is another step in the process of healing.  I think it will be a hard and great day.

5. There are apples and grapes in the dehydrator....

I am content.

Tomorrow.....peach leather. And crab apple jelly!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homework, dehydration, crab apples and poop spiders

1. I realized that we needed to turn our crazy "watching a couple hours of tv after school" ship around and start getting serous about our family schedule. The rule is that as long as somebody is working on homework, nobody turns on the boob tube, the life leak....the brain drain, if you will.

So everybody got in on the homework action.

Already I'm feeling better about life.

2.  I had a basket of tomatoes that was starting to get wrinkly and I knew there was no possibility of me being able to eat them. I can't bear to throw them out and they are a little small and imperfect to be giving away. So I scored a dehydrator at Aldi today for 13 bucks!!

Now I'm drying 3 trays of tomatoes, 1 tray of jalapeno halves and 1 tray of parsley. I love it!

What else can I dry??? I must scour the produce drawer!

3. Tonight we went over to the NeSmith's home to pick crab apples. Bro. NeSmith tells marvelous tales about his crab apple jelly (among other things) and I'm feeling adventurous.

Also, I thought it would be a nice way to spend a cool fall evening.

But first! The kids got a nature lesson on watching the spiders run as he sprayed the dog poop into the grass. Apparently, the spiders hang out near the poop in hopes of nabbing a fly that is in hopes of nabbing some poop.


And a bit horrifying.

But on to the picking!

After picking all we could reach, Brother NeSmith started cutting down the branches. He is ripping out these trees anyway in order to put in a new patio. So he figured he might as well do it now and we could get the apples.

Only, every time he would cut a branch and pull it in our direction, all the crab apples would rain down on his head. It was pretty funny.  The boys did their level best to try to convince the branches not to land in the neighbor's yard.

And we had lots of little people to gather all of the fallen apples up.

Megan and Laney set up a 6 step sorting process on the picnic table. It mostly involved putting them in one box and rolling them around and then putting them in the next box. So, in the end, our crab apples have been put through a very thorough rolling and box-transferring process.

As well they should be.

When it was dark and we had a big box of crab apples, we loaded up the van and headed home.

It was definitely better that a(nother) movie night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fairy houses and unfortunate mozzerella

1. So.

It turns out I have found my one true calling.

It's building miniature houses out of plastic bottles and pine cones. 

Any chance I could make a living at this? Because I am so completely addicted to it. I could shingle bleach bottles all day. 

I started by spray painting an old bleach bottle, cutting out a window and sneaking to a park to scoop up a tupperware-full of landscape pebbles. Laney and I found the perfect pine cones along Ridgeview...and discovered a nice supply of bark under the same pine trees. 

We were ready to start!

The pine cone shingles curled up a bit, after the started to dry, but I figure the fairies can make any repairs necessary.

The finished product:  (my favorite is the stone chimney)

All the kids got excited and decided to make their own houses.

Meg's hobbit house:

She is know working on the bell tower. Check out that spiral staircase!

Mathew is in mid-production with "Ash's Inn".

Ethan is working on a house and has focused most of his attention on the roof. I love his chimney garden! I can picture little creatures sitting on the bench and reading a book.

I decided to make a clock tower. I started with an orange juice bottle, two sidewalk chalk containers and a little scrap wood to make a roof.

I am having WAY to much fun making mini flower boxes...

and porch lights.

I might be neglecting my housework/dinner making responsibilities.

Just think of the possibilities!

I have plans for fairy-sized raised bed vegetable gardens, picket fence with arbor, sandbox, teeter totter, clothesline, pathway, fishing pond with seed-pod kayaks....mercy!

2. In other news, I purchased these fresh "mozzeralla balls" at the store, thinking they would be yummy and maybe something I could slice up with fresh tomatoes for a side dish. 

And then I opened them up and realized I had just spent 3 bucks on cheese boobs.

I'm thinking they would be better chopped up and put into a lasagna.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Canning, Mustache Monday and a Fatty

1. One of the consequences of a fun family outing to the apple orchard is....


I figured it was finally time to buy a canner and start a jar collecton.

So far I've canned 12 jars of applesauce and dried several batches of apple chips in the dehydrator.

I also made a quart of apple peel syrup out of the cores and peels. It was pretty tasty!

2. In other news, Spirit week is upon us and I am thrilled to find out that we have ditched "Sports Day" and "Crazy Sock Day" for "Mustache Day" and "Tie Dye Day". Not that those are inherently better....just DIFFERENT!

We simply don't own crazy socks.

But we can paint mustachios with water-proof mascara.

3. I thought our caterpillar season had ended for the year.

I was wrong.

We found this fatty (Horned Tomato Worm) chomping down on my tomato plants with gusto.

He will be transformed into a Sphinx Moth and so we will let him move into the sprouting jar and see what we will see.

4. So....the mudders/tapers are down with the drywall and ceiling texture. It is a total mess and it's going to take me forEVER to clean it up and then paint it.

Sweeping is futile.

This is going to take a bucket of water, a scraper and on-hands-and-knees scrubbing. HOORAY!