Monday, May 25, 2009

First Fruit

Nothing tastes better than fresh-picked, sun-ripened strawberries. True, there are blueberries and raspberries and elderberries, but strawberries by far are the tastiest. Perhaps it is because they are the first fruit to ripen. I'm still not sure. So far, we've gone out and picked every day and gotten at least 1/2 a basket like this: We didn't pick on Saturday and ended up with a full basket on Sunday.

Today we worked in the garden. While Tim weeded the elderberry bushes and tried to figure out if the other gigantic bush was a weed or something important, the kids and I planted corn in the first two beds of the garden. My seedlings didn't last the potting phase, so I'm hoping that the in-ground will do better. I'm still trying to harden off the tomatoes in the hopes that I still might get some viable plants. I'm down to about 10 or so. Grrr! Weather permitting this week, in the afternoons I'd like to work more beds, maybe get the squash and peas into the ground and get some lettuce started. Next year I'm getting one of those calenders that tells you when to plant everything so I don't fall behind again. Oh, and I confirmed the gigantic bush(s) was/were the raspberry bush(s) later by finding pictures of the leaves online.

On a not-quite-gardening note but still related to the family, we're planning a trip to Washington D.C. this Saturday. First stop, the Temple at about 11am or so for a picnic lunch, a visit to the visitors' center, and a walk around the grounds. I can't wait until I can go inside. Next stop, the National Zoo for the afternoon to look at the animals. It's been a long time since I've been to the zoo, and I know the kids will enjoy it. This is the last two weeks of school, and this will also be the last weekend we will have the kids until they return from Arkansas with their father, so we're trying to fit some fun stuff in there before they go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Twice baked cheesy 'taters

On the way home from the Coles wedding on Saturday, Tim and I were talking about the recent increase in cake activity. He told me that he was happy that I was busy doing something I like doing, that I really enjoy, but that it was putting more pressure on him because he had to help with laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. His biggest gripe (I think) was that he hadn't had a good home cooked meal in a couple weeks because we had to settle for something quick and easy most nights. Hmmm...

We had power problems at church on Sunday (something about a blown fuse and a three-phase something that had 1/3 of the building's power down). We finished Sacrament, but they cancelled the remaining meetings for the rest of the day. No Relief Society, no Primary, nothing. I went home feeling a little bummed because I had really practiced the hymns for RS. Any way, Tim had stayed home instead of going with us because he had worked the night before and was working that evening. We got home and put the kids down for a nap as well, and then I got to work. Most of the laundry was done, the dishes were done, and Audie helped me make bread and rolls for dinner. Our menu consisted of pan-fried chicken, rolls, mixed veggies, and twice baked cheesy 'taters. Audie helped me with those, too.So here's what we did for the 'taters:

First, we scrubbed one 'tater for each person at dinner and baked them in the oven until they were soft all the way through. Then, we cut the tops off of them (save these for later) and scooped out the inside, leaving no more than 1/4" on the skin. We added (for 5 'taters) 1 cup of sour cream, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp. each garlic and onion powder, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. We then mashed everything together until it resembled slightly lumpy mashed 'taters. Last, we filled the empty skins and a little more so it mounded over the top with the cheesy innards and sprinkled with oregano, salt, pepper, cheese, and paprika. Then we baked it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese on top was melted and slightly browned.

The lids we cut off of the 'taters we spread with butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powder, and cheese and baked on the same pan as the 'taters until they were melty and brown as well. Mmmm, tasty!

If you're wondering about the plate... I picked that pattern out at the outlet store when I was very young. 2 or 3 maybe? My parents had been using that set for over 20 years before they decided to get a blank white set from the same company/store. Guess who got the old ones? :-) I still like the flowers and butterflies!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just because...

I forget now what it was that I had for Tim when he got home earlier this week. Something I'd gotten him while I was out or something I'd been working on that I wanted to show him. We met at the door saying to each other, "I have something for you."

This was his something for me. How sweet!!! Everyone wanted a sniff, though Dougie's idea of a sniff is more like a short snort. Cute nonetheless. I tell you, I am one lucky lady!

Mommy!!! Come look at the Hawk!

We were sleeping peacefully Saturday morning, hoping to sleep later than usual after a long and late night of carving Styrofoam. I hear a commotion, a noise, that causes one eye to open warily. Quiet for the moment, and I'm up anyway, I decide to get up and use the bathroom. I can hear the kids talking excitedly through the walls. My curiosity piqued, I go to investigate.

"Mommy!!! Come look at the hawk!" comes the chorus from my children. What hawk? In the garden on the fence... Um... that's not a hawk.
What is this ungainly bird preening himself on my fencepost?
I sent Audie to get the camera and quieted Chloie and Dougie so that we could open the window for better pictures. The vulture quietly shook, ruffled, and cleaned only once stopping to look uninterestedly at us at the window.That is one big ugly bird. The kids were afraid that he was going to eat the plants in the garden, but I explained that he prefers animals that are already dead. A rather morbid start to the morning, but then again it worked well to get me in the mood for a vicious dragon required for this Saturday's wedding cake.
Apparently he didn't want to clean long, because shortly after I snapped these pictures, he flew away, leaving me unable to capture his full wingspan.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Tim's Camaro... and a suprise!

I was a sneaky little fiery dart last week for Tim's birthday! He says he'll have to watch out for me from now on, but I think he'll forget before too long after I lull him back to our normalcy. Hehehe!!!

So why was I sneaky? Well, he said he hadn't had a birthday party in quite some time. I'm not sure how long, but I decided that if I didn't do it as a surprise, it wouldn't happen. I asked our friends and family if they'd be interested, and most said yes. They all knew not to tell Tim. The only inkling that anything was up was when I talked to Steve and Hannah at Hannah's birthday party. The only thing I told him was that Steve and Co. were coming to dinner on Saturday, which was the truth, but not the whole truth.

I got off of work early on Friday and got hamburger, hot dogs, chips, etc. for the party and hid it all in the kitchen where he usually doesn't look. He knew I was working on his birthday cake that night, but because he was on night shift, he didn't know what it looked like or what else I accomplished while he was away (potato salad, cantaloupe, and other prep work).

I let him sleep and gave the kids a bath in the morning. While they were getting cleaned up, I worked more on cleaning out the garage. We went to two birthday parties that morning/afternoon and put everyone (but me) down for a nap. While everyone was asleep, I made hamburgers and swept out the garage. As I was sweeping, I heard the garage door open... I thought one of the kids was up... it was Tim!

After a bout of rather poignant questioning, he tells me that one of my guests was lost on the way to the house and had called Tim's phone for directions. I was THAT close!!! 15 more minutes, and it would have gone flawlessly! So since he was up, he helped me finish setting up.

Here is the cake I was up until 2am working on. The humidity caused a little problem with the fondant, and it looked like the bumpers fell off, but he liked it (his favorite Mounds cake recipe).Here is my little sleepy dude on Mom. Dougie didn't want to get up for anything! Abbey making funny faces at her Aunt Hannah (behind the camera)
Tim's brother, Steve, and Eddie Mueller at the party.
Over all we had a good time talking and laughing while everyone munched on hamburgers, hot dogs, home-made potato salad, chips, soda, Kool-aid, and cake. Some of the kids in attendance got a little muddy playing in a stream they found running under the rocks. Someone proudly brought us a crawdad (yikes!) and Audie's finger got smashed under a rock. Luckily it's not broken, but enter panicked mommy mode (PMM) - I still insisted on a blessing the following day at church. I'm not taking any chances!

Family Home Evening

I know I'm a little behind on the pictures.

This is our family home evening from last week. Seeing as the topic during Sacrament was Zion, we decided to carry over the theme for our activities. The center picture is the destruction of Babylon, while the pictures around the outside are Enoch and his people in Zion. We talked about why Babylon was destroyed, why Zion was taken into heaven, and the differences between the two. We then went down an impromptu list of activities and asked which city they belonged in. For example, fighting amongst ourselves belonged to Babylon; being kind to one another belonged to Zion; following the Lord's commandments belonged in Zion; and drinking alcohol and smoking belonged in Babylon. The kids understood that by doing the right things, they could live in "Zion" and not be in "Babylon" when it is destroyed. Everyone then got to color their own picture of Zion. Counter-clockwise from the top left is Tim, Audie, Chloie, Dougie, and me.

You won't belive what we found in the garden!

The kids were helping me work in the garden last week before it started on this week-long raining streak. Tim managed to get the beds tilled, and we cleared out the puff balls on day one.

On day two, my munchkins helped me plant the green beans in the bed by the compost, and we decided to clear out some leaves and brush that had accumulated along the fence. As I'm moving the leaves, I see a scurry of red...

Um... I really hope that was not a spider. It looked awful big. One deep breath later, I still see a hint of red, so I dig it up, move the leaves, and smile...Isn't it cute?!?! They tell me it is a salamander.Audie and I decided to take pictures and show Tim (he was in the back chopping wood). And finally, here is Audie and his new friend.
Would you believe I even picked it up? I think it was a little scared because all of a sudden my hand was wet... Praise the Lord and pass the sanitizer! We put him on the rocks behind the house where the rain water trickles down the mountain before we went inside for the night.