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Monday, May 26, 2008

Lazy or Tired?

I haven't been blogging much lately. On Tuesday my parents came into town for a visit. It was sort of a spur of the moment kind of thing. The opportunity presented itself and they jumped on it. The boys were thrilled to have them here. Uncle Brian and Austin got to spend a lot of time playing together. Mom and I shopped for some quilting fabric to make some baby quilts. We have decided to get some made and see if anyone would like to by them. I'll get some pictures posted up as we have them ready. This is yet another creative outlet for me! Anything artsy and crafty has my name all over it. It was nice just getting to hang out with my parents. The visits always go by entirely too fast, but I still cherish any visits we have. They were so kind and watched the boys for us on one evening so Eric and I could have sort of a date out. We had to run an errand, but errands without kids are amazingly easier! Then we went to a book store and stopped for ice cream. It was so nice getting out by ourselves. We couldn't remember the last time we'd done something like that! So, thanks again Mom and Dad! :) My mom's birthday was on the Tuesday they arrived....so I made cup cakes for the special day. I found a recipe to make some hostess cupcakes from scratch. They were so good! It was hard to wait until she got here to eat them. I was bad and forgot to take pictures. Things are a little crazier when you get my family together. We went to some neat stores while they were here. They even found some honey that was made locally. I have been suffering from really bad allergies. Nothing seems to be helping. The pollen counts have been extremely high. So, now I'm trying eating honey that was made in this area to see if it will help my allergies improve. They are a little better, but still dragging me down. It was hard trying to be energetic while my parents were here. By Thursday, I started for have a bit more energy. So, I may have to just give in and make a doctor's appointment, but I'm really crossing my fingers that eating honey and taking bee pollen will work it's magic, because doctor visits are time consuming and costly! In the mean time I am just trying to make myself do the things I need to do. I'm thankful today is a holiday weekend! Unfortunately, we are spending it building a storage shed for the backyard. That is another fiasco which is another blog topic in itself! So stay tuned for The Lowe's Saga of the Backyard Shed! :) I'll try and get some pics up here real soon! We also have a bear that's been spotted hanging around in our area! Not too far from our house! I'll write more about that in my next post! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Illustration Friday


I am thinking of entering a sketch on the Illustration Friday website. I am not a trained artist. Just a wanna be artist. But, I have noticed that a lot of others aren't necessarily artists either. It may just be a chance to get some good feedback....and take a step in the direction of the art world. This is my piece I have started, but I have more work to do before it's ready. This sketch is from a picture I took of Austin when he was about four. It was taken at our other house we owned way out in the sticks!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Eric!


The boys had so much fun getting ready for Eric's birthday. Austin kept Dad's present a secret in spite of Eric trying to con him into telling him what his present was!

Raspberry Cake!






Eric's cake turned out very well. I was so thankful! It was a bit of an experiment for me! He loved his cake. He had at least two pieces last night. That means he really likes it. The boys really liked it too. I made it with a chocolate butter cream frosting. I had just enough to get the cake done. I was cutting it close. I thought I might not have enough. Then I added some Belgium chocolate shavings to the top of the cake. I think Eric had a nice birthday. We made Monte Cristo sandwiches. I'm not sure how that's spelled. That was good too. The boys and I put balloons and decorations up in a hurry. We just wanted to make it special for Eric. One of our friends was supposed to come over, but at the last minute he had a work meeting and couldn't come. It ended up just being the four of us. But that's okay, we still had fun. Eric got a desktop fish tank for his desk at work. It was something he mentioned he wanted months ago. So....I found one at Walmart. I think the boys are disappointed it's for his office at work. It's really neat looking. I also made some chocolate truffles for Eric. They came out so good too!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Nana's Ranger Cookies


These cookies are special because they are my grandmother's recipe. They bring back memories of spending summer visits at their house in Tennessee. They lived out in the country surrounded by farms. We just loved going to visit them in the summer. We usually ended up having a picnic in the Smokey Mountains or even heading into Gatlinburg. I also fondly remember getting to eat the yummy desserts she would bake. It's a family thing. My grandmother enjoyed baking from what I remember. I also always remember my mom baking cookies and making homemade and hand decorated cakes on birthdays. My mom is especially famous for her sugar cookies and pies during the holidays. I think my mother is the one who gave me such a love for baking, well that and my innate sweet tooth! This recipe is really special to me because it brings back the fun memories with my grandmother. She passed away a little over seven years ago. I wish she could have met my sons. I know she would have really gotten a big kick out of them.
I remember when she heard I was marrying someone from New York. I am certain she had some typical Yankee stereotype ideas in her head. But, when she met Eric in person, I just knew that she instantly loved him. He and Grandaddy had so much in common. She and I laughed about that together. I am glad that Eric and I had some good visits with my grandparents when we first married. There are so many memories that I cherish. I am growing wiser about things as I have hit my early thirties. Life should be more about relationships and family instead of chasing material things. Material things get old, broken, and forgotten. Memories on the other hand, they stick. I remember getting married. I remember the births of our sons. There are the holidays spent with family. And as sad as it is, I remember family funerals. Sharing in the loss and grief together as a family. Even that is a special memory that I hold close to my heart. I always remember the togetherness that I feel, whether it is with my side of the family or Eric's. It doesn't matter which side we are with. When we are together there is just this comfort in the togetherness.
So I am choosing to share this recipe with who ever reads this blog. I hope if you decide to make this cookie, that it will either bring back family memories or give you some ideas how to make some new ones!
Moving on two the greatness of this recipe! This is a great cookie if you like chewy with a little bit of a crunch too. It almost reminds me of a chewy granola bar, only a little different. I made these cookies this past week. I think I'm the one who likes them best at my house. I couldn't stay out of them. I don't think Eric was quite as in to them. Wes seemed to prefer them more than Austin did.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup special K cereal
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Bake in 375 degree oven (maybe 350 degree in electric ovens) ungreased cookie sheets, for 10-12 minutes, Remove immediately from cookie sheets. My oven tends to get very hot. I baked mine at 350 and they came out just find. I also rotated the cookies on the racks half way through the baking. I think it makes the cookies bake more evenly and they have just the color and chewiness that I like. Happy Baking Y'all. I get to say that because I live in the South! :) Yes, the South with a capital S!

Amish Bread


Lately I have been checking out some Amish recipes. These recipes are supposed to be great and use common and affordable ingredients. I found a recipe for this Amish whole wheat bread. I decided I would give hit a shot. It came out very well. I did find I needed to add a bit more flour to get it where it was easy to shape into loaves. I am considering getting regular sized bread loaf pans because then I could make sandwich sized loafs with this stuff. It has been great to go with dinner. A couple of times the boys and I had it toasted with butter for breakfast.

The recipe came from http://www.experience-ohio-amish-country.com/amish-wheat-bread.html
3/4 c. sugar, 3/4 c. flour, 1 Tbsp. salt, 3 c. warm water, 2 Tbsp. (2 pkg.) yeast, 3/4 c. vegetable oil, (I used canola) 2 c. whole wheat flour, 6 c. white flour; Mix sugar, flour and salt. Add water. Stir well and add yeast. Let set until it rises a bit, then add vegetable oil. Mix well, then add flour. Mix well. Let rise until double. Form into 3 loaves and let rise. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. My loaf pans were small. I ended up with four smaller loaves.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cake Plans

Okay, so Eric's birthday is just a couple of days away. I have big cake plans. Eric wants a raspberry cake with chocolate butter cream frosting. I have to decide whether I'm gong to do this as cupcakes or an actual cake. I haven't made up my mind yet. I am coming up with my own personal creation. I'm going to use a basic yellow cake recipe from one of my cookbooks, but I'll be adding some flavored gelatin and some raspberries into it. I may add another item or two in there as well. Hopefully my creation will come out good and taste even better. I think it will, but you just never know till you do it! :) I will make sure to put the recipe and pictures up if it turns out well. If it turns out to be a disaster, I will end up making an emergency run to the store for a new cake! I'm hoping all turns out well though! :)

I also came across a neat website that has some great and easy on the budget recipes. http://www.cheap-cuisine.com I can't wait to try them out. I'm going to be making a few of them this coming week. Check in on the posts. I'll be sure to write up how they turn out for me!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Boys Love Bugs




We have been doing some science work on the subject of insects. Both of the boys love the subject and I can incorporate activities that they both can participate in. Being able to get Wesley involved really helps with homeschooling Austin. We made the cutest insect hats. I had to beg Austin to let me get a picture of him! Wes, well he was more than willing to pose for a few shots!


Then one night I found a HUGE MUNGO spider. (That's the only way to describe it!) I had to grab the camera and get a shot. It was late at night so the boys were already asleep. Austin could not believe how big this one was! It reminded me of a tarantella when I first saw it!

Backyard Campfire



Austin has been asking to do this for so long! We finally had a day where Eric and I had a day off together and the weather was good. This was on a day that it was a bit cooler out....which made the campfire even nicer. Austin had built this fire pit with his friend Kyle. He waited at least two months before we finally were able to build a fire in it. We didn't think we were going to be able to get a fire going, but it actually worked quite well. We had a nozzle gun hose right nearby in case the fire got out of control. It was actually quite the opposite. We had to keep adding pine straw to keep it from burning out. Once we got it going....we roasted the hot dogs. We even made s'mores and roasted marshmallows. The food tasted really good! It made us realize how much we have missed having a grill. Austin had a great day! I'm happy that we were finally able to do this with Austin. Wes enjoyed everything too. He was a little worried about the fire. But, that's a healthy fear! This was a really enjoyable day.

Puppy Chow


How's that for a Title! I found this recipe on another blog. There are some great blogs written by foodies. I have found some neat recipes. The great part is you get to see photos of what things look like before you make them. I love to see pictures! So when I came across this recipe....that basically doesn't involve baking and it seemed fairly cheap to make. Another plus was that it made a big quantity. Anyway, one of my favorite blogs is http://wineloverscookingdiary.wordpress.com/ This is where I came across the puppy chow recipe.


Puppy Chow

9 cups crispy rice cereal squares (like chex, I used generic), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate; add peanut butter and mix until smooth.Remove from heat, add cereal and stir until coated.Pour powdered sugar into large plastic bag, add coated cereal and shake until well coated. Store in airtight container.


I have to say, I'm not a huge a peanut butter fan, but this I really like! Wes and Eric seem to enjoy it quite a bit. This one will be a keeper for us. I was glad to find a snack I could make to get away from store bought ones. I'm trying to avoid the hydrogenated oils. I also made sure to use a peanut butter that didn't have the harmful oils in it! I'm impressed that there are quite a few good brands out there without the junk in it! This recipe also keeps really well. This is a great snack to try. It's basically fool proof...and fast and easy! The results are yummy! :)