Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Flashback ~ Climbing the Walls!

Come on back to February of 2006...Sometimes kids are "climbing the walls" figuratively, and sometimes, well, they are literally climbing the walls. It was quite the experience to hear all the giggling and turn the corner to see this...

Brenna was 8 and Beth was 5. These pictures are so reflective of their personalities. Brenna, though older, is so cautious...notice how she only went half-way up the wall. And Beth, the daring one with no fear, went up until her head hit the ceiling, disappointed that was as high as she could go. These two know how to make an adventure out of anything...keeps me on my toes and brings a lot of giggles to this house!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hot Dogs and Dehydrated Frogs

It's hot. H.O.T. Even with our little AC window unit (which I am so thankful for) and lots of fans, the nights are getting uncomfortable. Just too hot. I'm so hoping the cool-down on Saturday is bigger than they are forecasting...but for today we are just a bit too warm. So what are the latest signs that it is too hot??

How about a hot dog? He happily gnaws on chunks of ice throughout the day to stay cool...

And how about a dehydrated frog? We found this little guy on our pool cover this morning. Beth is convinced he was suffering from dehydration because of his whitish coloring. So she quickly dunked him into the dog's water bucket. After his coloring started to improve, she put him up in a nice shady tree. Frog rescue. Just another day in the life of Beth.

The kids' route to cooling off? Alex is at the lake today with a big group and the girls are back in the pool, where they have spent hours this week. And I am debating whether it's worth it to run today. Even in my air-conditioned family room. I feel a bit like a slug. And slugs aren't the greatest runners. Probably their absence of legs or something.

And what better excuse for this than an extreme heat wave??

Hope you all are staying cool...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Menu ~ brought to you by Brad!

Today the Monday Menu is a recipe contributed by one of the most unlikely sources...Brad.

I could go on and on (and sometimes I do!) about how great Brad is. And it's all true. I think this world is a better place because Brad is in it. I think you are a better person if you call Brad your friend. And if you don't like Brad, I don't like you. Quite simple.

But for all his greatness, there is an area where Brad just does not excel. And it's the whole area of cooking. He's tried over the years. And we've all tried to encourage him. SO! When there is something that he does well in the whole food prep thing, we really want to make a big deal out of it. We want to celebrate it and get as many miles out of it as we possibly can. And there is one thing he does well. It's totally his domain, and I haven't entered it in years and years.

The recipe that he has conquered?? RICE KRISPY TREATS!! So, with no further ado, I give you Brad's Rice Krispy Treat recipe. (In his words)

"1/2 a thing of butter
48 big marshmallows
slightly more than 6 cups of Rice Krispies

heat the butter and marshmallows in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. then you stir it up and start putting about 3 cups of cereal in, stir it, then 3 cups in and stir it. one of the keys is to not pack it too hard. put it into a 9x9 buttered pan and smooth it out with a plastic baggie on your hand. don't pack it too hard because then they just get hard and they don't stay soft."
Thank you, Brad.

Now, for a special treat, we added a couple layers once Brad had taken the recipe this far. Beth had requested peanut butter in there, but you just don't mess with a good thing. At least Brad doesn't. So when he got it to that part, I pulled out the peanut butter and spread a chunky, generous layer over the top. And because I am never one to leave well-enough alone, I then decided that the peanut butter may be lonely without some chocolate. So I pulled out the left-over dark chocolate frosting from Brad's birthday cake and let Beth spread that all over the top of the peanut butter. Very, very, good...The only thing I would change is to make these in a 9x13 pan if you are topping them, then you have a better cereal bar to frosting ratio. Cause you know, life is all about balance.

Please take notice of the beautiful and fancy way Beth spread that frosting. She was very careful to get all those pretty little "peaks" in the frosting. That a girl.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Energy to Burn + Creativity + Mom's Camera =

I think my position as family photographer/paparazzi is secure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Kings Who Braved the Angry Sea

Yesterday two men braved the angry sea to hunt and gather and provide for their families. They rose at 3:10 in the morning to get themselves to the dock on time. The endured a lot of rocking and rolling, accompanied by the sound of grown men hurling over the side of a boat. (One of these two men discreetly lost a doughnut over the side of the boat, but did not go to the point of hurling in an ugly way.) They worked themselves silly to bring home dinner to the rest of us. The group photographers were so distracted by the bounty of provision that they both forgot to take pictures of us enjoying their catch. But we did enjoy their catch. Grilled to perfection with garden fresh zucchini and potatoes and garlic bread dripping with butter. A meal fit for a king. Actually a meal fit for two kings ~ who braved the angry sea.


The bountiful salmon of their labor.

The two kings with their catch.

I have a feeling these two boys, I mean men, I mean KINGS, will be back out there next year experiencing this all over again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Flashback ~ Christmas in July!

What a wacky time to be thinking about Christmas! Well, not really. The last three years I have had the great pleasure of working with a couple friends decorating a tree for the annual Christmas Forest. This all benefits St. Peter's Hospital...beautifully decorated trees and wreaths that are auctioned at a big gala dinner the week after Thanksgiving. These trees are amazing, and I am always in awe of the creativity that goes into all these trees. Last night we had our planning meeting for this year, and our creative juices got flowing at the end.

But for the flashback, here is a glimpse into our past trees. (I can't quickly find the 2006 tree...Charlotte's Web. It was pretty. Trust me.)

2007...A Charlie Brown Christmas

We had FUN planning this tree.

2008... Visions of Sugar Plums

We wanted to do just a pretty tree. And it was.

It's harder to see the details on this one, but it had clusters of plastic plums that we "sugared" and plum-colored glass balls that we also "sugared". We also lightly flocked this tree, it looked just like a tree covered in light frost. Lots of really was pretty.

And what does 2009 hold? Well, it's going to be bright. It's going to be beautiful. It will have some creatures. Great creatures, and small creatures. But that's more of a flash forward, so that's all I will say for now. You'll have to wait for Thanksgiving weekend to come check it out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


A very happy birthday to my very favorite person...wishin' you were here (no thank you for the spray next time).

Or here.

Just something to bring a smile to your face, anyway.

I do love you so much, and am so thankful to get to spend my life with you. Every year has been better than the last...

Thanks for the love. And thanks for having a birthday so we can have cake tonight!

Hurry got a lotta love waiting for you...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Menu ~ Chocolate Cupcakes

(The following post is dedicated to Marlece, who made it very clear she was expecting this soon...and I hope you are happy with this recipe!)

I'm back on track with the Monday Menu! (Well, at least for this Monday...) And I'm coming back with a very spectacular treat. So spectacular that I made Brad take them to work this morning so I wouldn't eat them all myself. I would have eaten them just one at a time, but I'm pretty sure that a series of "just one" would have added up to like 5 or 12 by the end of the day.

So, after visiting this place, I have been on a mission to make a really good cupcake. I mean really good. I'm getting closer. This one is definitely a yummy cupcake. Perfect? Maybe not quite. But really, really good. Too good to wait for a special occasion to make them. Just make them and eat them. You'll be glad you did.

The cupcake recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa. I happily stumbled upon her show, which I don't often watch, when she was comparing 2 chocolate cupcakes. She made one batch "plain", and one batch with her "secret ingredient". The secret? Instant coffee granules. The coffee flavor does not come through much at all, but it totally intensifies the flavor of the chocolate. These have a dense, fudgy yum. She topped hers with a ganache, but I'm more of a smooth buttercream girl, so I'm giving you my topping of choice. You're welcome.

Chocolate Cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 (16 oz.) can Hershey's chocolate syrup (I KNOW!!)
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp. instant coffee granules

Preheat oven to 325. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes or so. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and coffee granules and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough.

Scoop the batter into the muffin pans, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the muffin pan.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 tsp. vanilla

Add the coffee granules to the milk and set aside for it to dissolve. Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa and beat together. Alternately add the powdered sugar and milk/coffee mix, beating continually. Add vanilla and beat well.

Spread generously onto cooled cupcakes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Love A Parade!

Well, here is a quick look at the kids' walk down the Lakefair Parade route. The girls rode on our church's Monster Bus, which drove in front of our amazing float! So many people worked so hard...and it really turned out beautifully. And Alex was a volunteer banner holder...this year holding the banner in front of the float that won the Community Service Award. Fun, hot, sweaty, and deserving of an ice cream treat!

Other than the fact that Brenna "lost" all that ice cream late that night, it was a fabulous day!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whatcha Been Up To??

I have heard some disgruntled remarks about my abandonment of my "Monday Menu" and "Flashback Friday". Well, some seasons just better lend themselves to consistency, and this has not been one of those seasons. I have promised a friend I will do a Monday Menu this coming Monday, and dedicate it to her. I'm brainstorming what it should be. Dessert? Dinner? Any thoughts out there? So here is just a bunch of randomness regarding what I've been up to instead of blogging...

Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms. I am doing the uniform fittings for a whole bunch of cheerleaders. It is a strange thing. I have had such a crazy amount of the cutest little people fluttering through here, and yet they just keep coming. Eleven more girls coming today, but I think we are nearing the end. If they weren't so stinkin' cute I might be really tired of this, but their cuteness keeps me going. About 14 of them are mine for the next 3 months, and I'm thinking they are the cutest of all.

Today I got myself this when I went to the grocery store. I thought I "earned" it. I don't know really what that means other than I had a craving and feeling like I "earned" it helped justify it in my odd mind. Call it sustenance for the next few hours of uniform stuff.

And since my front door will be more like a revolving door from 12:30 until about 8:00 tonight, and since my family is pretty much tired of left-overs and Top Ramen, I am making about the best combination of easy and yummy I know. A nice sized pork roast, some salt, pepper and garlic powder, a rough cut sweet onion all tossed into the crock pot. A few hours, lots of great smells later...take that roast out and shred it with 2 forks. Put it back into the drained crock pot, pour in some Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ Sauce and heat through. Then serve it up on some hamburger buns with some potato chips and pickle spears and coleslaw that I'll have Brenna make from a kit...ta-da! A really yummy hot weather dinner that makes great left-overs! And no heating up my kitchen. I also am going to make some homemade ice cream tonight...if I can squish it in. Brenda has me obsessed with it since our vacation. Reminds me so much of being at my grandparents farm as a kid. Plain 'ole homemade vanilla ice cream with raspberries right out of our garden. Yum, yum. Come on over for some tonight...though I may make you try on a cheer uniform...

And I forgot to take a picture...but use your imagination. The kids have been having lots of friend time this week. It's so fun to watch the friends Alex has known since kindergarten turning into young men. The one that was here yesterday and last night...he is now 6'3" and maybe not even done growing. I didn't even ask what size his shoes were. Last I asked his mom they were 13. Sweet kid. Lots of health issues this past year...still a bit of an uncertain future, so a true pleasure to have him hanging out and doing so well.

Beth is enjoying a summer nap right now, recuperating from a "sleep" over with a friend. I'm going to live vicariously through her right now. Oh...I'd love a nap.

And this is just a cute (though poor quality) picture of a frequently entertaining sight...

This is our cat, Edgar, and our neighbors dog, Finnegan. The kids are Finn's companion while his mom and dad are at work. Edgar loves to antagonize Finn. He'll just stand around and watch Finn go crazy barking and kicking up the grass, content to have the safety of a fence separating them. At this moment, Edgar decided to torment him even more by hanging out on the fence. I would love to read Finn's thoughts as this was happening!

I feel another give-away creeping closer, too. I'm thinking in the next couple weeks I may have to come up with something clever...I've got a couple "prizes" all ready and waiting for a new home. Molly will be happy. And, no, it has nothing to do with uniforms.

So, that's it for today. Back to my "sustenance".

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Moose, A Dog, and A Snail...Oh, My!

Thursday night I had the great pleasure of spending the evening with my dear friend. She calls me her "old friend." I prefer to be called a "childhood friend" or something more flattering to both of us. After all, my dear Deb, you are older than me. We met in Mrs. Glenn's class in third grade. Many years ago. She scored some Mariner tickets from work, so she treated me to great field level seats just above the Mariner's dugout. Such fun! Great game, but most of all just the great company of a great friend. We were oh-so-lucky to get our picture taken with this very happy Moose:

Then on Friday night, Alex came home from camp. He went straight there from our vacation, so had not been home for quite some time. Who was the happiest to see him?? His dog, Archie. This dog had not quite been himself since we came home. We thought he was just exhausted from his time away or the heat or something. But as soon as he came in the house and heard Alex's voice? Our 'ole Archie was back. He went skidding on the wood floor into the dining room and over by Alex's chair. And could not get close enough to him. A very sweet scene of a boy and his dog:

And today was a day for fulfilling a little girl's deep desire. Beth has been talking about moon snails for about a month now. She has been very fixated on seeing one up close. A curiosity that had to be satisfied. So today we headed down to the beach, and her sweet daddy went down under water until he came up with a moon snail for her to inspect up close. Actually, she ended up inspecting 3 moon snails and a star fish and a clam and a huge crab...lots of great things. Her curiosity for life has always been one of Beth's most endearing traits, so it was fun to have yet another opportunity to watch her explore a creature new to her...

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Vacation of Thrills ~ The Final Chapter

Can you possibly take any more ramblings about our thrilling vacation?? Well, I can't leave anything undone, so I give you the final installment of this gripping photo journal of our trip.

Some of the most thrilling moments were spent at the beach. Great sand for building things, like this drip castle:

Great sand for burying yourself:

Great sand for just sitting and packing some sand baseballs:

And some of the most thrilling moments at the beach happened with the rental of this wave runner:

Fun, fun, fun. Six hours of fun. Brad is hoping to figure out a way to be an owner of one of these big boys. They are fun. Have I mentioned that they are fun? And here are my two favorite guys, both feeling like little boys with a new favorite toy:

Jack's ready to take on the river...

And now I give you some final random vacation memories...

Thanks for the memories, Lake Entiat...see ya next year!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Vacation of Thrills ~ Part 3

So here I go again, trying to wrap up the highlights of our great vacation. Not going to happen in this post. Too many cute shots to capture here. It will take at least one more installment, so if you've had enough already, no problem. Just don't check back in until tomorrow and you should be fine! And if you are still reading, you are among my most favorites.

We had several days of enjoying the pool that was a short walk from our house. A very warm pool. I didn't keep track of how many hours were spent here, but here are some of the pool highlights in pictures:

Brad and Beth ~ water buddies:

Emily and Brenna ~ synchronized divers??

Beth diving in like (how else?) a frog!

Brenna trying out a star jump into the pool.

Can you say "big splash"?

Can you say "big ouch"?

Thomas, the great swimming dude!

This look says, "Well, of course I can do it!"

Beth, walking on water?? No, standing on daddy's back:

What better way to dry off than lay on hot cement!

This is the view the parents had walking back from the pool. They made quite a troop!

And what a dining view, huh? Always hungry after swimming...