Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer Photos

Here's Dan doing what he does.  Winning my heart with chocolate chunk cheesecake.  He's got it perfected so it's as good as the stuff we used to get at Garden CafĂ© in Lincoln.  I do love a man who can cook.
The Omaha zoo is awesome.  I don't take a lot of animal pics because, you know, I could find better ones online.  No one wants to see the pics I take at a zoo, including myself.  Unless my kids are in it.  But I was so fascinated with the jelly fish this time.  I always love the penguins and sharks too.
 When you go back home to Lincoln, you just have to stop at Topper Popper for soft ice cream cones. 

Miss Thing's birthday.  She wanted an Angry Birds party.  And yes, Pinterest moms, I bought cupcakes from Walmart.  I'm not even ashamed.
Lovin' her birthday "darks"
Lincoln also has a fun children's museum.  Dan makes a good criminal.  I think it's the beard. :)
 This is our second year having a garden.  It's a big job.  I made the kids do a little weeding most mornings before they played.
 Our Chinese exchange students were "Cici" and "Dora" this year.  They were so very different from each other.  Cici was excited about dancing and swimming, and Dora liked drawing and roller skating.  Cici had never learned how to ride a bike, so she learned here!
 I'll tell you one thing.  Newton, Utah really knows how to party on the 24th of July.  It's their pioneer heritage celebration.  They have a parade complete with airplane and of course candy and such, a pancake breakfast (You want it, you need it, so come and eat it! Dan's favorite thing to say now- but you have to use the right voice).  They have cotton candy, snow cones, and lunch.  AND they have a mud obstacle course, followed by foam and water from fire hoses.  I was so surprised to see the girls participate in all of it.  This doesn't even include the dinner and dance the night before.  The pic below is in an original pioneer cabin my aunt restored.

                                         visit to the temple where Dan and I were married
 After a trip, this is always my favorite thing to come home to
 And we got another authentic Chinese dinner

                                             Here is a from our Salt Lake City fake-cation
And these are more Nebraska pics but it's too difficult to put them in the right order!  Trains with Grandpa.

 And we took the kids to the sunken gardens, where Dan proposed many, many years ago.
 And I finally let the kids do a lemonade stand.  It was super hot when they started, and a crazy storm when they had to stop shortly after.

 Those were the highlights of our summer!  Of course we had some s'mores, fun at the drive in, barbeques, and stuff like that.  Sad to see it end, but mostly I'm happy to be on a schedule again.  The kids are pretty happy to be back in school too, I think.  My biggest challenge now is that Ellis is the only kid home during the day.  It was the same last year, but she napped a little better last year.  We have a preschool day with friends one day a week, the YMCA and such, but I'm going to have to figure out how to entertain her.  I'm not so good at playing My Little Ponies at 7 am.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When we moved into our home, it was so overwhelming.  I felt like everything had to be done at once, and I was impatient for our home to start reflecting who we are. But I think once I got the main areas filled in, the big blank walls decorated, and infused some color into the place I calmed down a little.  Really I'm glad it can't be done all at once though.  I mean, what would fill my need for creative endeavors if I was all done.  Also, you can get a feel for the space and find the right things, although I'll admit there's something to be said for just going for it sometimes. 
Anyway, little by little the neglected areas are filling in.  I have a few arrangements I finally got done and wanted to share.
This is the hallway arrangement.  I usually concern myself with printing and hanging my favorite, almost perfect portraits.  But I decided I wanted somewhere to hang all the candid or neglected photos that I love and just get hidden in books.  I saw this fabric idea on Pinterest of course.  I pulled together some frames I already had, bought some dollar store frames that had mats, and had a little fun with them.  I painted all the frames white but gave them variety by using leftover fabric behind some of the pictures, yellow cardstock behind others, and leaving some matted.  I used photo corners, so I can change the pictures out when I want to.
The sad thing is I did this whole arrangement a long time ago and just left the center frame empty forever!  I even had the You are my Sunshine all made up in Photoshop.  But I was just feeling too cheap to have it printed on styrene.  Finally I just printed it on regular photo paper and spray glued it to a piece of cardboard.  I know the Sunshine thing has been done quite a lot, but it was a family favorite growing up, so it's significant to me.  As I've mentioned, I love to decorate with things that have meaning.
I'm a little embarrassed about my photography with these pics, but I guess I'm just not an interiors photographer.
I'd like to share the sunshine file.  I hope this works.  This is a 10x20 but I'm sure you could play with it a little in Photoshop, crop it to an 8x10 if it's easier.

Next, I finally found a big R for our stairway, and things started coming together after that.  I've just had that giant picture and the rectangular one up for a long time.  Sometimes I just have to let things be until the right thing presents itself, or I hunt it down.  Then I added in things that have been sitting around waiting for the right spot, and things that needed a new home.  I love it when that happens.  I almost got rid of that little mirror.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer is Fresh Peaches

Time once again to try to fit all of the events from the past several months into a blog post or two.  Actually, I think I'll just write about what I'm currently excited about, and then try to go through and find pics of our favorite summer events later.   
We went to the Salt Lake City area last week and spent some much needed time with family.  It was great to not have to rush.  We were able to just hang out together, and find some fun things to do with our kids.  We went for cheap this time.  My sister suggested we take the kids to Scheels, which we thought was crazy because for the most part we are not an athletically inclined family.  But she explained that they have ferris wheel rides for a dollar and all kinds of fun free and cheap things to do.  The kids thought we had taken them to the best place on earth.  So nice when they're so young you can trick them like that.  We all rode the ferris wheel, even though some of us don't like heights (my toes are tingling just thinking about it).  We did the fake shooting range for a buck each, saw all the unfortunate stuffed creatures, and some creepy talking robot presidents, and got super yummy ice cream cones for 80 cents.  They also had a little play area and dance dance revolution for free, and a giant fish tank.  Now as far as destination fun goes, many people wouldn't be that impressed, but it was just the right little stop for us.  We also took them to Mama's Plantation for chicken and cornbread, and went to a little splash park by my sister's house.  I like the country and smaller towns best, but I can definitely see the advantages of city life.  There is so much to do (and eat), and you can get great deals too.  Next year maybe we'll do the pass of all passes and spend more time playing there.  I think SLC has it's own beauty too, especially when you look out over the mountains towering over the valley filled with twinkling lights.  I just hate driving around there, and the endless succession of strip malls and housing developments kind of creeps me out.
We went to Ikea for the kids eat free Tuesday.  That store could drain your life away before you even found your way out.  It's fun to eat there, but I'd recommend going about two.  We waited in line a very long time with very wiggly chiddlers.  It's fun to go to the market and buy a few inexpensive kitchen items.  Of course I had to pick up these bowls, with their perfect yellowey stripes.  Wild sunflowers are growing at back of our yard this year.  I love them.

My fun, apart from seeing my sibs, was the fruit stand in Brigham City.  It took me back to when I was a kid, stopping with Grandma while she picked out her fruit.  We got a couple boxes of fragrant Regina peaches for a great price.  I was nervous that I wouldn't know what to do with them and they would go bad.  But my good friend came by and taught me to bottle them with the water bath method.  It wasn't as painful as I had anticipated.  One confession:  I used old lids.  Upon learning that this was a definite no no, my paternally ingrained fear that I would kill us all with my botchellism fruit overcame me.  But they are sealed, and I think we will live.  Gotta learn somehow, I guess.  I just sometimes feel like I make more than my share of mistakes in life.  I also made peach freezer jam.  I screw that up about half the time too, but you can still eat jam that is runny, and you won't die.  We ate some yesterday on fresh Grandma Katie rolls and we all loved it.  I cut a bunch in halves and froze them for smoothies and peach crisp later, and I made praline baskets with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh cut peaches on top.  It's a tricky recipe, but a family tradition so you gotta do it occasionally.  Oh, and we all bit into as many fresh peaches as we could and tasted that rare little bit of heaven.  Only a few peaches went bad, so I think we can call that success!
I hope I don't get in trouble for posting secret family recipes, but I think I have to post it.  It may take some practice but it is rather an impressive looking dessert, and it is yummy.

Grandma Katie's Praline Baskets (or Ice Cream Lingere)

preheat oven to 325 degrees

Bring to a full boil:
1/4 cut sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light karo syrup
1/4 cup butter

Take off heat and add:
3 1/2 TB flour
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Use dark-colored not stick cookie sheet, you can try greasing and flouring a regular cookie sheet but can be problematic.  (I used a baking stone, BUT the key for me was using parchment paper.  I cut it into two pieces so I could take it from the stone, let it cool on the cold granite countertop for a SHORT time, then pick it up and drop it over the glass)

Measure about one TB of mixture on to cookie sheet fore each praline dish.  You can fit two at a time.  Bake for 4-6 min. (mine took longer, maybe because it was a stone? just watch carefully and it will get bubbly, and the edges will start to brown a little).  When done, set out on the counter to cool for about one minute.  Remove with a spatula while still soft and flexible.  Lay on top of an overturned glas and let the edges ruffle down around.  Remove when cool. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh or frozen peaches, or try other fruits, chocolate sauces etc. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Grants Eleventy First Birthday, or Maybe Just Eleventh

I guess it seems like all we do around here is have Birthday parties.  We kind of went crazy with it when we moved here and had more space, and the Haake's left us and they didn't have a pile of cousins at every Birthday party.  But I think I'm burning out a little.  We might slow them down after this one.
I was so excited that Grant wanted to have a Hobbit party.  I love that book.  I had Dan make a cave that I found the instructions for (on Pinterest, of course).  He thought it was going to be pointless, but I'll tell you, it was the hit of the party.  We put flashlights and riddles in there, but mostly there was a lot of growling and screaming coming from inside.  Gollum's cave was totally worth it. 
The cupcakes were pretty easy.  I just painted the cookies with food coloring and added a peanut m&m.  Cute little hobbit doors.  We had good old barbeque chicken legs and potato salad, Gollum's goodies were gummy frogs, fish, and worms, and Elf cookies were the council of Elrond. 
We had a two legged race, and played horseshoes, which we thought were appropriate Shire games.  Katia even gave people hairy hobbit toes.
Afterward we watched the movie, of course, although only one boy was able to stay for it. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sugar and Spice

When El learned to climb out of her crib it was a sad day.  My peaceful mid-day quiet time was instantly dissolved.  I tried everything I could think of, but to no avail.  The good news was that I was able to get rid of the crib.  It's the same crib we purchased over twelve years ago and used for all five of our children.  I should have felt sentimental about it.  But I didn't.  I was totally ready to let it go.  I was eager to pull out the other twin bed and put on the matching bedding and headboard so the room could look finished and cutsie. When I made the large frame with the jigsaw, I took the leftover pieces and made these headboards.  Just added some batting and stapled on cute fabric.  There was a weird spot in the center, so I sewed the little flowers.  That's right, actually used a needle and thread.  Then I just threw the headboards on there.  They are not even attached.  That's my typical, hasty way of doing things, and Dan wasn't interested in doing it properly for me.  Apart from a couple of empty frames and such, the room finally looks done.  I would like to put that Shakespeare quote up, that says "though she be but little, she is fierce."  It fits Savy to a tee.  But maybe I should balance it with something that does not reinforce undesirable behavior.  Just a thought I had.
Sadly, it's rarely clean in there.  But I took the opportunity after an ambitious day (when I even pulled the vacuum out) to take some pics.  It's definitely girlie, but it's kind of fun to go floofy once in awhile, don't you think?
Oh, and another little happy ending:  El has decided to nap again.    It's hit and miss, but I am most grateful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nesting.  Kindof.

I'm not pregnant or anything, but maybe that's a term we could use in the almost-spring.  Seems appropriate.  And I am starting to clean and de-clutter and do crazy projects, losing sleep because my mind won't slow down, all of that.  I finally started making my laundry look like a happy place to be.  I'll wait to post pics until it's all done.
I was reading a post from Houzz today about getting rid of things you don't need or want.  It's true, I keep a lot of things out of guilt:  Guilt because I bought it and shouldn't have, guilt because someone gave it to me and I think I should keep it.  I also keep things because I'm a little sentimental pack rat, and because I'm kind of a slob and don't de-clutter often enough.  Anyway, someone posted after that article about a concept that there are strings attached from you to every item that surrounds you.  I don't think I really buy into the little emotional invisible strings or whatever, but I like the imagery.  Think about it.  Every time you look at a stack on a kitchen counter, or notice the little pile of screws in a corner somewhere that you don't feel you should get rid of, don't you die a little inside?  So today, while that's fresh in my mind, I'm getting rid of some things, or at least getting them out of my face.  I mean, if you want to keep weird little screws, at least put them in a box or drawers somewhere.  It would be nice to live a little simpler too.  Not sure if I have it in me, but we can try.
So I have a list of things I really really need or I'll die but not really because stuff is just stuff, right? And a huger list of projects that need to be done, and also require that things be purchased.  I'm getting a little crazy about it, because I've been cooped up too long and I need something to distract me until the weather improves, and I haven't done much creatively in way too long.  Also we'll finally be financially able to do some of those things soon.  I think it would be really cool if we actually made our basement  a place that adults would set foot in, rather than Lord of the Flies Land.  The kids don't realize it, because they kindof like to roller blade down there, and wreak havoc that we only make them clean up every once in awhile, but I think they'd like a nice place to play too, and maybe there would be more than one light.  But Dan says we need gutters first, and to fix the garage door that blew in on one of those crazy windy days.  Blah, blah, practicality.  And by the way I am totally grateful that we'll be able to get some things crossed off our list.  So there's a peek at just a few of the crazy things that are swimming around in my head. 
It feels weird not posing a pic, so I will.  I found this the other day, and think it was two springs ago, in the backyard.  Weird because it doesn't seem like it was that long ago.
Oh- one other piece of really good news:  Target is selling the dark chocolate Cadbury robin eggs this year.  I stocked up already.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm such a slacker.  I also meant to post some pics of Ayla's Lalaloopsie party in December.  I have to admit, I spent an awful long time on the decorating, cupcake toppers, etc. and not so much time actually planning the party.  I wish I had come up with some better things to do.  I did buy her a game where you hide the Lalaloopsie (I know, I probably could have made that game myself, but she asked for it specifically- and she gets everything she asks for because we have to come up with enough stuff for birthday and Christmas- except for a bird.  She didn't get a bird).  They were quickly bored with the game, then they watched the Loopsie movie on Netflix.  If I were more awesome, they would have made a cute craft or something.  Whatever.  I have to say, after that party I thought I might be happy if I never saw another Lalaloopsie again.  But then I saw Little Miss Muffet and several other fairy tale ones at The Family Dollar so that didn't last long. She's mine, by the way.  I have two of my own.  We are a little obsessed with them around here.  Btw, the button idea I got off Pinterest, of course.  They are just a couple different sized plates glued together and I punched circles for the middle. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

So I wrote a book

I meant to write a bit about the book, since I posted a picture of the cover and all.  Mostly it was there because I needed some opinions on it, and this was a good place to put it.  It's up for sale on Amazon now, and I'm working on making physical copies available. 
I've always loved writing, and wished I could write a book, but I felt completely blocked every time I tried to come up with a story.  Then one night I was thinking about it and something came to me.  More and more details fell into place until I had to get up and write my ideas down.  I tend to focus obsessively on one thing at a time, so once this was underway, it all went rather quickly.  It was painful, and since I'd never done this before I wasn't confident that I could complete the whole process.  But I wrote most of it out over the summer.  Then of course there were months of fine tuning that drove me crazy and made me sick of the whole thing.  I had help from family and friends and an online critique group and I learned so much.  Of course I'd really like to try it again, and I have lots of ideas and several stories underway, but I don't have the same drive as I did the first time, and my confidence wavers a lot.  So we will see.  Here is the link: