Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oh, the Places I've Seen!!

Tristan. .crazy 15 year old!
This is hands down. .one of the craziest weeks we have had around here in a LOOOOONG time!!
I have endured. .
a family photo shoot, the annual meeting of the extension board I volunteer on, the death of Jeremy's grandpa, school conferences for 3 children in 2 different schools. . 
Devin decorated this black widow "pumpkin" for the decorating contest at school. He got second place!
. .work, junior high youth group, a 3 1/2 year old with the stomach flu, music practices with 2 young children, a family dinner and funeral. .
That is Marion Jones. .I love the olympics. .and I was more than entralled with her a few years ago as I watched her compete. .truly an exceptional athlete!! I was pretty excited to see her in person! She also gave a session to the kids about her bad experience using illegal performance enhancing substances!
 . .the attendance at a local celebrity charity basket ball game, where Grant was playing in the drumline halftime performance. . 
. .they were featured for a whopping 5 seconds on Fox Sports midwest! 
. .More music practice and a performance at Gospel night of Wilmore Saturday Night Live. Cami actually didn't sing. She PRACTICED. .but when it came to people in the audience and strange stage lights on her. .she didn't utter ONE little note. Not one. .out loud. .She did later advise me that she WAS, however, singing in her head! Devin did a great job for both of them though. .and he didn't seem a bit nervous. 
Yours truly performed as well. .and even sang some grownup music! It should post on youtube sometime soon, and I will try to repost the link later, should you care to hear my talented little 8 year sing his lil heart out!  
It's Cap'n Jack Sparrow. .and Betty Crocker. .with a prissy witch hat! Do you LOVE this apron?? My friend Sara brought it to me as a hostess gift for the Halloween party last year!! It's very "me."  By the way. .it took Jeremy MUCH longer to get ready then me. .and he made sure he had plenty of time to primp. .it really made me giggle!! But what a response he got!! If you knew him very well. .dressing up is not generally his ballgame. .nor his personality!! He continues to surprise me every year!
I spent much time in prayer this week, begging God to give us freedom from everyone else getting the flu! He hears, and mercifully. .we survived one day at a time, taking role every morning!! We made it to Sunday school and church. .and were still standing to host our annual Halloween party this afternoon!! Of course. .there are tons of photos to share. .and I will!! 
But Devin insisted that we fix his treat bags for his school party tomorrow. I was planning on fixing them tomorrow while he was AT school. .but he wanted to help. .so we did that this evening! Because he has 27 kids in his class and treat bags can get expensive. .I had decided that we would make some type of snack mix to put in paper sacks with a pencil and some plastic fangs that D just had to have from Target (for his classmates. .yeah. .that's right!)
The snack mix turned out quite well. .we used popcorn, green and orange apple cereal, some chocolate cereal, a couple packages of Reece's pieces (which are great Halloween colors) and some candy corn and pumpkins.  
Mixed it all together, adding stuff until it looked right. . 
dumped 'em into the bags we worked on. .and
Now I have the whole day tomorrow to recuperate from last week. .that is. .
until it's time to attend the school Halloween party as "Party Mom," and then take the little ones to a Halloween party at the nursing home and then on to trick or treating!!
Stop and smell a rose for me please!!
Actually. .Thursday was a perfect afternoon. .and I did get a chance to stop and check out my own roses. .and will have some gardening photos later in the week. .in addition to the Halloween party pictures!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For the Love of Salsa!!

It was that time again. .Salsa time!!
Lisa came out Saturday for our annual salsa-makin' marathon!
Of course this year we didn't have ANY frozen tomatos from our gardens. So, she bought 3 cases of salsa-cut tomatos.  It just works so much faster. .and you'd never know the difference!
It takes a lot of jars!! We send 'em through the dishwasher first so they are good and clean. I filled my dishwasher full twice. .and Lisa washed hers before she came.

Lisa's husband called once to remind us to watch Camille, since last year she measured an unknown quantity of red pepper flakes into our pot. .while we were scurrying back and forth like the above photo. We didn't think she had added that much pepper, but it was SURE hot!! She bored pretty fast this year while watching Lisa chop "halloweenyos!" (Jalepenos, for those that don't speak 3 year old dialect!) Thankfully, all her big brothers were home. .so they were able to hold her attention to some degree!! Tristan was snapping photos. .it is a little hard to see what a huge mess we make on the counter behind us. .and we usually wipe salsa off the walls for weeks after our cook-a-thon. The stovetop is generally full. .The water bath canner is to the right, on the back burner is a double batch of something, and the front burner always had a single batch of El Charro salsa simmering. I will have to measure how many gallons those pots hold. .you can see how full they are!
Lisa and I sporting our empties. .tomato cans that is. .We just needed ONE more can to make a complete pyramid! HA
We started a bit after 8 and worked until about ten minutes after 4. .chopping, measuring, mixing, cooking, tasting, and canning up four varieties of salsa! I was proud to be able to wear the adorable apron that Jeremy got me for my birthday last spring. .Thanks to Sara for fixing me up with something lacy, pink, and gorgeous!! I'll have to try to remember to snap a photo of the adorable Halloween apron she whipped up for me as a hostess gift for last year's Halloween party!!
I don't think I showed a photo last year of our canner on the gas grill!! Our favorite type of salsa is a knock off of a local Mexican restaurant. We didn't like how it tasted after we had to add enough vinegar to keep us from giving someone botulism. .so we started pressure canning it. Every year we get the instruction manual out to remind us how to work the thing. .and this year there was NO wind. .so the heating up process of the canner was a lot faster and more predictable. We hopped through 6 or 7 batches of that stuff!
The equivalent of 155 pints of delicious home-made with love salsa!! Our family has been through 3 jars since Saturday. .
Come on over and we'll have some chips and salsa!!

On a side note. .Jeremy's grandpa passed from this life right before lunch today! I hope he is enjoying his own mind again!! We'll appreciate your continued prayers for healing and ease of suffering and sadness from those who loved him!
Have a blessed week!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

F. F. F. FALL!

We've been enjoying some crisp fall days here! The expected low Wednesday night was 27.
So I picked a huge bouquet of the cosmos to grace my bathroom. I have to admit that it is my first vaseful in the bathroom since May!! How disappointing. .I like to have fresh flowers from the yard in the bathroom throughout the summer. .but the gardens were not very productive. .and my motivation was less than enthusiastic! So I have been LOVING them this week.
I also picked as many of the jalepenos as I could handle. It seems that I will have another 4-5 days with low temps above 40. Maybe I'll get some cherry tomatos yet!!
I was hungry for some fall-like flavors and searched out some pancake recipes to try! I thought they were great!! Though the two cooks shown were less than thrilled about them after they tasted them! Not plain enough I guess! They were wonderfully apple flavored and very moist!
I like flavored syrups on my pancakes. This one had a syrup recipe using cardamom. .which I have never tried in my life. I tweaked the recipe with cinnamon and nutmeg instead, and it gave a nice tart flavor to the pancakes. The kitchen even smelled crisp and seasonal as they baked up!!

Apple Cider Pancakes
1 cup oat flour ( 1 cup uncooked rolled oats blended in food processor)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large apples ( peeled, grated)

Combine flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Combine eggs, apple cider, oil, and apples then mix with dry ingredients just until moistened. Spray hot griddle with cooking spray, ladle 1/4 cup batter onto griddle, cook until bubbles form on top, flip, continue cooking until golden.
Serve with Cinnamon Cider Syrup.
Cinnamon Cider Syrup
Serves: 6 Yield: 1 cup 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup apple cider

Combine cornstarch with cider. Stir until smooth and add spices. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Try to keep from licking it out of the bowl!

The leftover cakes warmed up great. .and, while the syrup didn't look very pretty warmed up, it still tasted really good! I really was hoping to have posted this earlier so you could all try them out for your Sunday breakfast!
 It still amazes me that everyone's lives are always a second and a phone call away from change. .and it is so easy to take life and schedules for granted daily! Yesterday morning we were notified that Jeremy's grandpa, who has been afflicted with a debilitating case of dementia, had fallen ill in the wee hours. Pneumonia was diagnosed. .and the decision to keep him comfortable, but not actively treat the infection was made. A merciful decision, I might add. Though his mind has been a fragment of what it once was, requiring a year long nursing home stay, his spirit is tough, and he is still somewhere between life and death as I write tonight. It has been an emotionally draining time for our family. .with a difficult week to come. .We appreciate your prayers for comfort and healing!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Off To the Races!

The dragsta! Everywhere he goes, people LOVE this truck!!
Since we enjoyed that 1 1/2 inches of rain 2 weekends ago, you may recall that it also cancelled Jeremy's weekend at the races with his motorhead buddies. October is the last month of racing until March, and he likes to go as often as he can that last month. So, when he started whining about missing the race and considered going to the track in Wichita. .I was on-board immediately for the trip. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE to shop??
It was dark by the time I thought to get my camera out! The photos weren't too bad. .Here's the start of the race, his light is green at the bottom of the "tree" of lights. My friend Dale thinks I would love to drive his old race car. .and I used to love to drive fast. .but I'm pretty sure that my heart is too weak to handle it now. .these boys go FAAAAST!
So, it turned into a date!! Cami asked everyday when we were going shopping (I've truly created a monster!) and then would cock her head, peer out of the corner of her eyes and down her nose, bat her eyelashes, and say "we're goin' shopping, right mom. .yeah!" and give me a thumbs up. .Becky is now laughing. .because she can totally see the Diva saying that. .and hear the tone of voice she used!
Watching and waiting as the winning rounds approached closer within reach
The older boys both had other things going on, so we left early with the little ones and took off for the track. When Jeremy got settled in, he unhitched the pickup for me. .and we went shopping! We tried a brick oven pizzeria at New Market Shopping Center, which Devin proclaimed was AWESOME!
We shopped until I was ready to fall down from the exhaution of carting around 2 kids through store after store!! But we got a lot of errands run! We took Two Brother's BBQ back to the trailer for supper and spent the evening watching races.
As luck and skill would have it. .this guy took 3rd place. .
and brought home a trophy and a check!
Devin was totally pumped about the trophy. .which he is SOOOO keeping. .
shh. .don't tell his dad!!  This picture was taken at about 11:15. Cami hadn't had a nap either. .and she was dressed for bed, with the new pillow she got while shopping!
I thought it was a short 2 1/2 hour trip home after that as I started the new book I'd bought a few weeks ago called "The Doctor's Lady." Jeremy thought he was going to die before we made it home! And I sat on my bathroom floor when we got home just to read ONE more chapter  :-)  I finished it yesterday. .great book!!

Grant finished football last week. .with an undefeated season! He has chosen not to go out for basketball this year. He plans on helping his dad in the shop and helping with the Wednesday night kids church group. The drumline that he performs with will be playing at a breast cancer awareness basketball game in a couple weeks.  If any of you get Fox sports. .the game will be televised. I understand the performance will be super!

Tristan is in limbo, waiting on his growth plate to heal in the broken foot. The walking boot is optional now, but he is still wearing it because it hurts if he doesn't. Hopefully the bone will heal itself after the blood supply is restored. .but if it doesn't, surgery will be needed to reconstruct the bone and apply a cartilage graft. All in all, the doctor was positive about football for next year. .and so was Tristan. He is planning a trip to Denver over Thanksgiving weekend to volunteer with his youth group at a packaging center for shoebox gifts to under-served kids. Hoping everyone local will join their soup supper Wednesday night to help support their mission!

Devin and Cami are anxiously awaiting their birthdays and Christmas. . asking me to RUN to the TV every time a commercial with good loot shows up!! I told their grandma to hook up and let them browse the toy section to get gift ideas! It won't take them long!! Cami's new dream gift is a large Barbie head that she can apply lipstick to, fix her hair with clips and colors, and primp up!!

Jeremy and I are down to a month wait on our "trip-of-a-lifetime" to New York City for a long weekend with our campin' buddies, Lane and Cindy. We are thankful for good grandma's that are willing to corrale the kids for a few days to allow us a nice little trip away!

Unbelievably, it is beginning to feel like fall/winter! Hope you all are enjoying the change of season!
Enjoy your week!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oreo Brownies. .courtesy of My Sis!

Fall is one of my favorite times for baking! My kitchen has been buzzing with activity. .mainly with trying out new recipes ideas that are starting to stack up.  This recipe though, was put in our family cookbook by my sister. We were hungry for chocolate dessert the other day, so Cami and I whipped some up.
She insisted on helping. .so I put her to work crushing oreos with her fist. .
(yes. .there was a huge mess. .but she had a great time)
. .and measuring them into the cup. We dumped a cup of coarsely (and I mean coarse) crushed oreos into a family sized brownie mix. .preparing and baking the mix as described on the box.
We chose to use white frosting to cover the cooled brownies. .and then sprinkled another 2/3 cup oreos on the top.
Cut 'em up and serve 'em on a plate. .ours were pretty messy!
Or. .you can get kinda Martha Stewart-ish. .and put 'em on an orange plate and dress 'em up with Halloween sprinkles!
Which is what we did to increase the cool factor in order to take them to a BBQ last Saturday night. I went home with an empty plate, so it must have worked!
Make sure you pick up the supplies today so you can try them out on your family this weekend!
Enjoy them as you do some fall yard work, or while you just sit and enjoy nature, or even while you take in some college football!!
Wishing you a GREAT weekend!

Oreo Brownies
1 pkg brownie mix (enough to make a 9x13 pan)
1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies
1 can frosting, chocolate or white
2/3 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

Prepare the brownie mix according to the directions. Stir in 1 cup cookies. Bake as directed. Cool completely. Frost with frosting. Sprinkle with remaining crushed oreos. Add sprinkles if desired.
Enjoy with a glass of ice cold milk!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh, to be a Kid Again!

Saturday will go down in my memory as one of our best family days EVER. .
courtesy of being on hold to argue about a 6 cent bill.
You see, I never open my internet/cell phone bill in a timely manner. .because it gets auto-debited from my bank. However, for the 4th month in a row. .I was sent a second bill from a $2 amount (that had been paid) that resulted after we switched our accounts around in July. I waited on hold until I could politely tell them that I have called to take care of this matter 4 months in a row. .and that now they are just throwing away their money while sending me aggravating bills that will make them less money than it cost them to stamp their envelope. .Oh yeah, sorry. I waited on hold and glanced down at a coupon stuck in the envelope with my SIX CENT bill. It was for money off tickets to THE greatest show on earth. .which was slated to be in Dodge City that same day running through the weekend.
As I pondered my plans for the weekend. .Hmmm. .nope. .nothing. .
I decided that since some of the males in my house would be gone to the races, that I would take myself and Cami. .and any leftover males to the circus Saturday. .and a trip to Hobby Lobby that I was DESPERATELY needing anyway!
But. .great praises to God. .we found ourselves in the middle of a two day rainstorm. .
so the races were cancelled. .
and I had my whole family to myself. .
And. .to the circus we went!
Although, grudgingly by the older boys.
Devin and Cami didn't know we were going to a circus until we got into the parking lot. .when Devin read it on the sign.
Initially, I was put out because they said no flash photography. .and I get their safety points. .but it took me about 15 minutes to remember that I didn't NEED to use a flash anyway. .probably. .because the stage was so bright. And all was right in my world again. .
So, we enjoyed tight-rope walkers. .
 that guy actually JUMPED on to this dude's shoulders as he was squatted down on that miniscule little rope. .then his conditioned thighs lifted both his weight. .and the guy on his shoulders to an upright position. .while still standing on that miniscule little rope! Amazing!
The look on Cami's face when she saw these huge elephants was priceless!! They also had an act with camels, horses, and miniature ponies. Additionally, they had trained cats and dogs for different acts too!
This beautiful, glittery girl had a cable in her ponytail. .
which was used to hook this beautiful, glittery girl with a cable in HER pony tail together.
There was a lot of discussion in our car regarding how much hair these girls have. .and why they weren't crying and/or bald when they were done spinning circles and doing gymnastics in the air. .held up by their ponies!
Intermission was the perfect time for snacks. Cami had been dying to have a sno-cone from the beginning. .and it came in a take home plastic clown mug. .The sno-cone tasted terrible, and luckily. . she spilled the remaining 3/4 onto the floor. .so we wouldn't have to worry about not spilling it on ourselves when we were clapping and cheering. Smart girl!!
Bambi and Dale. .see if you can see who is sitting in the row in front of us. .We ran into Jason in the parking lot. .and then he gave us an extra ticket that they had and didn't need! Yeah!
The look on her face as she found out there was MORE show to come!!
The second half proved to be as entertaining as the first. .Two little dancing China guys lit this ring of swords on fire. .
And then kamakazied right on through it. .with a bags over their heads.
More elephant tricks. .
. .how would you like to chase elephants wearing these suckers all day?? Ours was the first performance of three on Saturday. .Don't get me wrong. .I think these boots ROCK. .I'd wear 'em if they were mine. .but I'm pretty sure that I would be crying after about 3 hours!
Now, have you ever seen the likes of THAT?? It's certainly not a view you would get at the zoo!
This guy stood on the end of that teeter totter while another guy jumped on the "up" end, causing him to fly and sommersault backward into that seat in the sky. CRAZY! These were some exceptional athletes!! I know it is common to joke about running off to the circus or even about "circus freaks." But these people were incredible, INCREDIBLE athlete/performers!! They fascinated us with their acrobatics, gymnastics, and dancing, and wowed the crowd with their feats and illusions!
But this was probably the craziest thing that happened. .There is a woman at the top of that closed cage. .can you see her? Around the midsection of the globe are THREE big dudes on their motorcycles. .wearing helmets. She hung up there on a rope (with no leathers and helmet-less) while they rode their bikes all over the inside of that globe!! And it didn't take 'em very long to make a trip around.  I kept imagining that sickening crashing sound in my head, as I TOTALLY waited for them to collide.
They didn't of course. .but I still had to wonder how many times they had during practice!! It's a wonder that any of them survive to old age! Really!!
When the party was over. .
. .Cami was ready to stay for the next performance. .
She's still talking about the girls in their beautiful outfits. .
"you know mom, the one with the sparkling shirt and pink pants!"
And when Jeremy complained about the price of the snacks. .I reminded him that the kids got FREE souveneirs to take home. .
He just doesn't get it!!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to see what this crazy family has been up to.
Only a few days until the weekend!
Enjoy 'em!!