Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Heating up NOW!

I know my sister will be glad to see I have gotten a different indoor thermometer. .one in which the woman doesn't undress to her bikini!! Saturday was our first really hot day of the season! (And contrary to the little raindrop display. .it did NOT rain. .or drizzle. .or even drip. .at ALL!)
We worked on a little project Saturday. .
A little back door makeover!!
GonSS. .can you see my walmart sacks full of garlic on the right?? They are drying in the hot, hot wind. .as you recommended!
And had the door done before the worst of the heat arrived! It took me over an hour to tape and shield all those tiny little windows so Jeremy could spray the paint on. He sanded the metal door, and put body putty in the dents. .there were lots and LOTS of dents!! Then he used automotive paint to spray the door. .the inside is a creamy white. Sealing it with a matte spray when he was finished. We opted to change the handle to one that we can open with our elbows to get in. .since we are ALWAYS carrying armloads of whatever into the house!! Jeremy also wanted to add a deadbolt. .since he could pick the last lock that was on there. We opted for a Schlage keypad like one that was on the house we stayed at last summer. We can lock the door from the outside. .and open it easily since each person has their own code to get back in! For some reason the paint had a cracking problem. .and Jeremy used the rest of his red supply to finish this door. .I was a little disappointed. .because I was hoping that we could get the west deck door painted as well. .another project for another day. .and my back will thank me. . because there are three times the tiny windows in that door and side light panel that will need taped and shielded!
Since the mercury on Sunday looked like this. .I didn't even travel outside. .other than an excursion to church. .until the evening. I have been dragging hoses to all of our trees. .and fine tuning the drip irrigation systems set up in the flower beds. .The hot, dry wind really zaps everything. .including the humans. .
I had signed up to make some cookies to send with Devin to church camp this week. .to feed the hungry campers. .and we just decided to make an event out of it!!
Everyone in a family this big has their own favorites. .and I try to accomodate!! I also enjoyed trying a couple of new recipes. .like an oatmeal cookie using old fashioned oats instead of quick oats. .subbing in dark chocolate instead of raisins. .and a mocha crackle cookies. .which ultimately got rave reviews! I thought I would share the recipe for those that might like to snack in the comfort of their AC than be hanging out in the heat wave. .though they would be great to pack for the lake. .And, in case you think the M & M cookies are looking yummy. .here is the recipe for those. .they are delish. .and not your ordinary cookie!!

Speaking of the lake. .since the wind finally quit blowing yesterday. .and the mercury read a balmy 107 by 3:00. .we spent the afternoon at the lake after Cami and I got back from dropping D at church camp. .shh. .don't tell him!! The water was 82 degrees. .and it felt G-R-E-A-T!!
Yesterday the thermometer in my Yukon said 112 when I left work at 4. You can see it was still plenty warm when I got home around 6!! No relief in sight either. .108 today. .106; 104; 104; 102. .and windy. .bad combo!! We were hopeful to be able to shoot off LAST year's fireworks next week. .but there is a good chance a burn ban will go into effect. .and we will be out of luck again!! Blah!!
In the meantime. .I'll be having some more gardening pics to share. .if everything survives the next few days. .Things are lookin' crispy, even with the extra water!!
Don't know about you all. .but I think I'll just go have another cookie!! And drown my heat-induced sorrows in a big 'ole glass of milk!! Enjoy the rest of your week!

Mocha Crackle Cookies
1/2 cup butter
5 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
4 eggs
1/8 tsp salt 
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups plus 3 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup confectioners sugar

Microwave butter chocolate and coffee until chocolate is melted. cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine eggs and salt. Add sugars; stir in chocolate mixture; mix well. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to egg mixture to form a soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.  Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar; place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until set. Cool. .Consume several with large glass of cold milk!
And for those of you that know our family well. .and realize that mostly I cook and make messes. .and Jeremy does the clean up. .KNOW that I. .by myself. .cleaned up this cooking disaster. .until the place sparkled :-) So there!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Beet It. .

It was time for beet harvest last weekend!! I'm not good at knowing which ones should stay in the ground a little longer. .and since I had two small helpers. .ALL the beets came out. You'll notice in the pot, that there are some fairly good sized ones that should have come out weeks ago!! 
I looked through my blog, thinking I had posted my recipe before. .I couldn't find it. .and then I wasn't sure which recipe I had used! 
So. .I'm posting the recipe THIS year. .
so I can find it NEXT year!! 
I have only been growing beets for 3 years. .but they are a quick and easy crop. .needing harvested in the early summer before I'm sick of gardening!! It took a couple hours to harvest, boil, peel and can them. .but there was a lot of down time in between to multi-task!! They are sure pretty after they are cooked up!! I had a big soup pot full of them to simmer! 
Usually when I can beets, I just use the soup pot to can a few jars. .this time I pulled out my water bath canner. .which held all 8 jars! Our family doesn't really like beets fixed any other way. .and you can't BEET them with hamburgers as a side dish. . 
Or straight out of the jar!! 
Happy Monday!!

Beet Pickles
Or. .in Kansas. .
we call 'em. .
Pickled Beets!
3 qts (12 cups) sliced beets (see below) (or about 24 small beets)
2 cups sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp whole allspice
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

Wash beets. .leave root and about 1 inch of the green tops intact. place in a pot of water and boil until they are tender. .anywhere from 20 minutes for the smaller ones to 40 minutes for very large, out of control-sized beets, like mine! The skins will then slip right off and you can slice them about 1/4 inch thick. The smallest beets can be left whole. Combine the rest of ingredients in a large pot. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so. Pack beets into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot brine over beets, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece caps. Process pints and quarts 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. 
My crop was nearly a double recipe. .which yielded 4 quarts and 4 pints. 

Let them set for about a week before eating. .We just finished our last jar from last summer this past weekend. They were as yummy as they were back then!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wild Horse Camp 2012

I think I am finally recovered from last week's excursion to Camp. .and our weekend to mom's!! Thought I would share some of the photos I took while at beautiful Camp Lakeside.
Devin went as a camper. .
And Tristan was old enough to be a counselor!! It was funny to watch him as a mother duck. .herding around a group of kids.
He did a great job supervising and playing with the kids!! He liked it well enough that he expects to go do it again next year. .and Grant too. Grant had to take the year off from camp, as they want a year between being a camper and a counselor.
Here's part of the chief crew. These people are all extension agents or volunteers. They opt to do all of the classes themselves. .to keep the price low enough for many kids to go. They work HARD. .and it is usually pretty thankless!! What a great and fun group of adults to work with!
The first night included a watermelon feed. .which most of the kids enjoyed!! There seem to always be plenty of home-sick tummy aches the first night too, which helps me earn my keep!!
This year's theme was
"The Outback!"
Two of the agents took the kids on a nature walkabout. I'm sure the scenery in western Kansas was fairly different from Australia. .but they enjoyed listening and looking to see what they might discover.
Air rifle classes. .
. .and archery. .big favorites!
This year the kids tried to shoot a balloon on the target board. I hear that a few kids were even able to do it!
Fishing is a usual class as well. .
And sometimes they even catch a fish or two!! Good thing Christine doesn't mind worms and fish!
It was super windy the whole time. .even in the valley between the hills. Several groups didn't get to go canoeing. .which was a big disappointment.
Water games were a huge success for the second year running!! This game entailed strapping a bucket to the waist of someone. .
. .while another someone tried to fill it up by throwing cups of water at it. .Take a good look at Hannah the counselor's face as she got doused! The water was reported to be awfully cool!
. .And anyone playing the game with the holy buckets could attest to that.
Aboriginal art was the theme of the craft class.  They colored on sandpaper for an interesting effect. .and then painted with glue. .
and sprinkled the glue with glitter. .this was a Father's Day card for his dad.
These were DA BOMB!! 
They haven't brought the pogo sticks to camp since I have been going to work as the nurse. There was someone on them at every break. .including yours truly. .and I still have the blister on the instep of my right foot to prove it! No major injuries though. .and we were truly glad for that!
A little wildlife action. .Devin snagged my camera to catch the blue heron they saw while fishing. They are magnificent creatures. .can't wait till our upcoming Grand Lake Vacation so I can view them up close and personal.
Here's our hometown crew. .not as many as last year. .but still quite a few kids!
The group building activities on the last day were a hoot!! They did "body spelling." 
Can you read 4-H?
That's it from WILD
HORSE camp 2012!! 
The older boys left today for football camp in northeast Missouri. .and Devin leaves on Monday for church camp. Baseball finishes next week. .and then 4-H projects will take top priority. .our house has been in full baking swing. .and the boys have been fixing up some real treats!! The recipes they have been testing out have real potential. .I hope to share them soon.  We enjoyed a couple hours at the lake this afternoon. .and were hoping to go to our fave Oklahoma lake for a day trip Sat. .
BUT. .believe it or NOT, it's going to be windy!! 
And boating and water sports are NOT fun in the wind!! 
So. .Instead. .
I'm hoping that we can get the last two house doors painted red and the new functional, non-broken doorknobs and hardware placed. I'm always so disappointed when all we have left to do is "honey-do" stuff. :-) The beets and garlic are also ready for harvest this weekend!! Summer temperatures hit here by Sunday. .and since today is the official FIRST day of summer. .I guess we'll have to be ready!
Have a great weekend, Ya'll!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Scream. .You Scream. .

We enjoyed a good, family filled. .work-filled. .food filled weekend!
We had been planning a "work-weekend" at mom's for over a month. .
There were tasks that needed to be tended (according to us. .NOT her) and we wanted to get some things fixed, cleaned, organized, etc. My kids chose the "babysitting team," and I volunteered for the "kitchen team," everyone else was the "work team."
We have been emailing back and forth for a week, deciding on menus. Friday afternoon, I finally got around to fine-tuning the menus, and making last minute calls to confirm ingredients and contributions. Turned out, my SIL Tina and I were on the same page. .and thought that homemade ice cream sounded like a good plan. She had already bought the ingredients. She advised me that she had my grandparents old ice cream maker. .so I could leave mine at home. She mentioned it was a crank. .but I had NO idea just what that entailed!!
Initially it was intriguing to pull that old handle 'round and 'round to transform my liquid ingrendients into an icy, creamy goodness. I reflected over the day, noted the order of supper preparations still ahead of me, and pondered on how many buckets of homemade ice cream that my grandma churned in the same maker in years gone by.
That wore off pretty quickly though as I mentally cursed myself for not just bringing the electric one!!
I was thankful that Jeremy and Chris had finished their door revision and shop clean up about the time my arms were getting tired!! Cause there were no kids big enough to crank ANYWHERE to be seen!
A big bowl-ful of this treat was the perfect ending to a long, hot summer day!! Granted, this ice cream takes some time and love to concoct. .It is ALWAYS well worth it in the end. .and be careful. .it tastes ALMOST as good slurping it off the spoon warm as it does slurping it off the spoon icy cold!!
I know I haven't been good to post any recipes lately. .so I am excited to share my famous vanilla recipe taken from a Taste of Home magazine a ba-jillion years ago!! Warning: Once you TRY this recipe. .you'll have to think R-E-A-L-L-Y hard before going back to your plain 'ole easy recipe again!!

Mel’s Vanilla Ice Cream

8 cups milk, divided
6 eggs, separated
3 cups sugar, divided
3 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream

In large saucepan, bring 6 cups milk to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and add remaining milk, mixing well.  Combine 2 cups sugar and cornstarch and salt.  Gradually add to egg mixture.  Add to hot milk and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining sugar, beating well after each addition.  Beat until stiff peaks form.   Fold into warm milk mixture.  Beat in vanilla and cream until well mixed.  Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.   Freeze in ice cream freezer.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

We knew this would be a hard day. .
The loss of my earthly father has been difficult. .
and unpredictable as to what makes it harder. .
and what it makes it easier.
This day. .
my family would appreciate the extra prayers for comfort!

But, in celebrating the day of recognition for the father of my children. .
ALL of my children. .
I HAD to share the card that Cami made at preschool for her dad.
We're not really sure what it means. .
BUT. .
I had to show Jeremy early. .
SO. .
he wouldn't laugh out loud when she proudly hands it to him,
thus shattering all her excitement!!
I couldn't get the photo turned right. .but you can get the idea.

So today, as my heart cries for my earthly dad. .
I am reminded that my Heavenly Father has got my family in the palm of His hand. .
comforting us and growing us in spirit!

Romans 8:14-15
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family--calling him "Father, dear Father."

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Blooms

As I write. .
I am sitting in a different region of Kansas. .
listening to the wind blow, the kids giggle and scream. .
and the scent of Coppertone perfumes the air!
It is dry here in northwest Kansas. .
and the flowers are lacking. .
but not the beauty. .
never the beauty!
I had loaded some flower photos to my blog before I left, in hopes of some late night downtime.
I found some downtime. .
at least for the moment.
The kids have kept me busy between headaches, scrapes, nosebleeds, and homesickness.
If you haven't read my past Reflections from Camp Lakeside you might take a minute to do that. .if you have ever had kids that went to camp. .or wondered about an insider's scoop on the happenings around one, check into it. .it will probably make you smile! And if you want the second year's elaboration on the reflections of camp life click! I have found in the 3rd and 4th years of camp nursing, that the scenarios are much the same, just with different faces, but I have to re-read them every year and smile just the same.
Come on, and I'll show you what is new this week around the ranch! The black eyed susans in the top photos are just incredible this year. .finally!! It has taken 3 years for them to look decent. .and I am excited to see them seeding themselves readily, to ensure a better show next year. This photo of the goldenrod, reveals a plant that is blooming more than a month ahead of schedule. The other plant is not ready to bloom yet, so hopefully the show will continue.
These thread leaf coreopsis were a purchase from last summer. I really like the airy foliage and bright blooms. .GonSS. .I see a future in your "red bed" for some of these!
One of the Lantam raspberry bushes put on some fruit! I was TOTALLY amazed. I snitched off the first ones before letting Jeremy try some the next week. We finally showed the kids where they were, so I may not get to harvest anymore myself :-) Those will be nice to have around in a few years as they grow!
These bush honeysuckles have developed a little red berry. I don't know if the birds will enjoy them, but they are fun to look at!! I have two bushes, the third one died. They are supposed to have a nice fragrant flower, but I have yet to smell that. The blooms aren't too exciting either, so we'll see what these berries attract. They may be a bush that will come out to make room for other vegetation.
A Red Sun sunflower. I didn't have luck with the re-seeding themselves in the true colors, so I wonder if this one just didn't germinate last summer and it is now. I'll take it though, because the photo doesn't EVEN do justice to the color!
The daylily parade has started. I need to take a minute and find the names again.
This was a start from my friend Pat. .
As was this one. .they are both just gorgeous!! And will make a nice filler near the driveway when they really take off.
Showy evening primrose, shared with me by GonSS. .is really showy. I notice that Camp Lakeside has a great clump of these blooming now too! I believe it is one of those super native, xeric plants.
This stone planter is just developing on a weekly basis! Can't wait to see how things look at the end of the summer!
I am super excited about this. .Wild Bergamont. .a slightly xeric, native bee balm; shared with me by Gaia Gardener. It spent the afternoon in the vehicle after she dug it. .and then two days in my back room before it got into the ground. Didn't phase it a bit!! It just started blooming before I left. We saw lots of it at Chaplin Nature Center last summer, and the Swallowtail butterflies were just devouring it! I had seen a few around the yard earlier. .hope they find it.
This. .my friends. .is a Calla lily. .something I would never have voluntarily tried to grow on my own!! Our pastor's wife gave me three bulbs. I planted them in the bog garden near the pond. They love moisture. .which I don't do so well. All three bulbs have come up, and this is the first to start blooming. The cardinal flower I spoke of last week is also still alive in this same little bed. Double Score!!
The giant sunflowers both bloomed. The stalks were much larger than the blooms turned out. .but they are pretty just the same. The height with a flower on top hasn't ceased to impress Devin and Cami yet!
Well. .that's all I have for the day. I can't wait to share some camp pictures and stories soon. Enjoy your week!!