Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter Fun in 2017 {and how to entertain a variety of ages}

We were missing part of our clan, but we managed to have a lot of fun celebrating Easter anyway.  Our traditions are going to be harder and harder to hold on to with sports schedules and kids getting jobs, but I am determined!  I don't care quite as much where we get together as long as we do it somewhere, but the girls really love having everyone here for "Easter Saturday" as we call it.

In past years we've had the egg hunt using plastic eggs filled with all sorts of things.  Quarters, candy, stickers I think.  We use very little candy as none of them need it and Kate can't have any of it.  This year my sister had a good idea to use grapes and sugar free gum and I think someone chipped in a couple of $2.00 bills.  We also have a set of Resurrection Eggs.  If you aren't familiar with those, they are a set of plastic eggs that each contain something  symbolizing the Easter Story.  One contains a small rock for the stone that rolled away from the tomb, one has a rubber "sword", one has some "silver coins" representing the money paid to Judas, etc.  I remember one or two years, my dad would use those to tell the Easter story.  As they got older, we hid them along with the other eggs and when they all opened their eggs together whoever found the eggs told about that part of the story.  This year, I completely forgot to give them to the dads to hide!  They were even sitting in the kitchen.  Oh well.

Usually, we don't really plan any other games or activities, the kids just play and do their thing.  As they have gotten older though, I have noticed a lot of times they default to some sort of electronics and they also kind of split up, the boys going one way the girls the other and maybe someone getting left out who's not interested in either group and then is bored.

This year I was inspired by How To Celebrate Everything by Jenny  Rosenstrach author of the blog Dinner a Love Story.   This book is part cook book, part memoir and part pure inspiration!  We filled a jar with jelly beans and as everyone arrived they wrote down there guesses as to how many were in there.  This is how easy some of the games are that she suggests in the book.  Yes, we had to count them the night before!  Kate helped with that.  Then we ate and did the egg hunt.  They all like to open their eggs and trade each other and compare and all that.  When they were finished with that we had an egg race where you race with a raw egg held in a spoon.  That was fun.  Then all of us participated in an egg toss.  My mom and dad won that.  I swear their egg was some kind of crazy hard egg.  We (I) saved the "best" game for last.  We had the kids get their empty baskets and we had a.......

DANDELION PICKING CONTEST!  It was hilarious.  My niece had even said, "What are you going to do, make us pick all your dandelions?"  I about died laughing.  Yep!  That's about the gist of it.  We set the timer for 1 1/2 minutes and whoever picked the most won.  Jasmine was smart and just sat down in a spot and started grabbing.  Other's made it a little harder on themselves.  It was pretty funny to watch and they had fun.  I was accused of making that up just to get them to "pick all the weeds", but I pointed out that if that was the only idea behind this game the timer would've been set for 10 minutes!!  This game was not in the cookbook, by the way.  This was my own pure genius! ;)

Everyone was laughing, no one was rolling their eyes, and no one was on an electronic device and everyone, from 70 years down to 11, had a good time.

It was totally worth the yellow stains on my white table cloth from all of the dandelion counting!  I think I got it white again.

I found a few selfies on my phone.  Hi Carter!!

I have no earthly idea what that 17 year old girl is doing with her tongue hanging out.  Who is that anyway?










 
Oh yeah, they colored eggs too.  Which I forgot to boil first!  They scrambled just fine a couple of days later.




Sunday we went to Cameron's parents for lunch and then I took a nap in the guest room.  It was lovely!!









Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday With Words: All The Pretty Things

 

"We fumble around in the dark, begging for wisdom, praying that our children know how much they're loved, trying to be willing to admit when we are wrong-because we so often are.  Parenting and living require more faith than knowledge, more grace than rules, more trust than answers."


I just finished "All The Pretty Things" by Edie Wadsworth.  Edie also has a blog, www.lifeingrace.com.  It's funny, it's sometimes sad, it's encouraging, it's honest, and full of pretty pictures and good recipes.   She lives in a part of Tennessee that my parents came from and all my extended relatives still live.  We went to and through some of the places she has lived every summer and Christmas to visit our grandparents, so it's fun for me to read and think about those places.

This book was so, so good.  It's a memoir of a woman who survived a childhood full of poverty and brokenness, and I could hardly make myself put it down.  Since I have read all of her posts, I was familiar with her background but the book gives so much more of her story and it is just so amazing.   Isn't the above quote just spot on?!  Especially that last line - more faith, more grace, more trust.  Yes, please!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Valentine Biscuits and President's Day Syllabub




I have finally found a way to make vegan, gluten free biscuits!!  These were so good and no one would ever know!  It was so exciting!  I've had this recipe for a while called Southern Biscuit Muffins.  I have no idea where it came from.  I had forgotten all about it and that I had made it gluten free a long time ago.   As my family will tell you, if Kate can't have it, I don't want to mess with it anymore because I just cannot motivate myself to make what feels like two meals!  I'm trying to get better about that and look for more options.  I miss some of those yummy things we used to eat and I know they do too.  So if we are all four going to have biscuits, they must be free of eggs, dairy and wheat and little to no sugar.  I've used coconut oil before and GF flour plenty of times, but apparently not really in the right combination because these were the best GF biscuits we have ever made.

The interesting thing is, I realized after the girls and I had wolfed them down and I was cleaning up that I had actually forgotten part of the flour.  Hopefully I remember correctly what I did do and I can make them the same way next time because they were yummmmmyy!

The other difference that may have helped, but I'm not sure is that instead of coconut oil I used a "vegan butter product".  Never in my life did I think I would ever buy such a thing.  Butter rules!!  But, you do what you gotta do sometimes.

So here is what I {think} I did....

1 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/2 t. xanthum gum
1/4 c. Truvia (Kroger's version)
1 1/2 T. baking powder
3/4 c. vegan margarine (I didn't even know how to spell margarine!!)
1 c. cold almond milk (unsweetened, plain)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar (or sugar replacement) and baking powder.  With fork or pastry blender cut in "butter" until mixture is crumbly.  Add milk and stir until just combined.

The original recipe directions say to spoon dough into muffin pas and bake, but I used a large scoop and just scooped them onto a baking sheet and baked for 20 min.  They were divine!  "Buttery", light, fluffy, and delicious.


Glitter For Days!!



Now what in the world is syllabub, you may be asking!

Kate and I recently finished the book "Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin".  At one point in the story the family is having guests and the mother is serving syllabub and cakes and cookies.  I had no idea what it was so I looked it up.  It seemed sort of like a punch made with wine and whipped cream.  I thought surely there is a non-alcoholic version, so I looked and yes there were recipes.  Thank you Google!  Now to find a way to make it without real cream.  {I know.  I hate saying those words}  Thank you God for coconut milk.  Seriously!  There are so many foods that Kate can have because someone thought to substitute coconut milk for real milk.  Almond milk is okay, but if you need fat and creamy, coconut milk in a can is your friend!  So because I know all my friends are dying to make a non-alcoholic, non-dairy, refined sugar free syllabub, here you go!

1/4 c. sparkling white grape juice or sparkling apple juice
1 orange's juice
2 lemon's juice
sweetener to taste

1 14 oz. can coconut cream (trader joe's) or full fat coconut milk (thai kitchen)--I used the coconut cream
1/2 t. vanilla extract
sweetener to taste


Basically what I did was combine the non-alcoholic recipe from Epicurius.com and the non-dairy whip cream recipe from www.minimalistbaker.com. then took out the sugar and replaced with some stevia.  The sparkling grape juice is sweet and so all the sugar is really not necessary.

The whipped coconut milk is a little tricky.  We first did it in the mixer and it was not smooth at all.  So we transferred to the Bullet blender and that was better.

So this was a fun little recipe to try, but I'll be honest.  We didn't love it.  We used the coconut cream from Trader Joe's and I think I would like to try it with the regular coconut milk and I think since I reduced the sugar, I would also just use one lemon. One more thing I would recommend is to taste the juice combo and the whipped coconut cream separately and then adding the cream to individual glasses instead of combining the whole thing.

Let me know if you try it.  It really was a fun recipe for Kate to help with.  Callie reminded me that syllabub is also in the Felicity books so it's perfect for a historical type "tea time".  Of course you have to invite at least one stuffed animal and read the Gettysburg Address. :)








Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Out of the Mouth of Kate

Our Advent reading this morning was about Abraham and Sarah and God's promise to them that they would have a child.

The reading mentioned their advanced age and this was Kate's response......

Kate  "How can someone have a baby when they are 99 years old?"

Me  "That's why it's called a miracle!"

Kate  "Well that's a weird miracle!"

Callie and I got a good laugh and as usual, Kate asked what was so funny.  Which always makes me laugh harder.

Obviously, she still doesn't get the term "virgin birth"!!  LOL

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving~2016

I've missed seeing the things people are thankful for on Facebook this year.  I didn't do it either but I wanted to take the time here to make note of some things that I am thankful for.  It's always fun to look back and read them later in the year.

It has been a good month with a couple of extra fun things thrown in, plus Thanksgiving is always fun.


My Christmas cactus bloomed  a little early





We were very thankful that we were able to get together with some of the families we traveled to China with in 2006.  All the girls are about the same age, some just taller than others.  This December will be the 10 year anniversary of bringing our girls home.  We were hoping to get more of the group together, but we are quite spread out geographically and it just didn't work out. 




We had a beautiful day to go on a field trip with the co-op we belong to and a great guide who gave us a tour of the Rotary Jail in Crawfordsville.  It was very interesting and just a bit creepy.  Some gruesome things occurred when all body parts were not inside the bars and they rotated the cells.

We've had beautiful weather and although I'm ready to see some snow, I'm thankful for Cameron's mom's sake that it has been so mild so far.  We keep warning her about what's coming though and telling her she's getting off easy for her first November here. 

It has been a lot of fun having them close after all of these years.  Cameron stops by almost everyday and we see them at least once a week.   I am going to miss my mid-winter road trip south and our mini vacation.  They always spoiled us like we were at a bed and breakfast.  Cameron keeps telling them we are going to just spend a week at their house anyway.  But I think they would get a little tired of us and kick us out after a while! :)


We have much to be thankful for and even though there are hard days and not all of life is perfect, I try very hard to remind myself and the girls that we are so very blessed.

It's nice to have an official holiday to remind us all!

Happy Thanksgiving!!



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Autumn 2016

We have had the most amazing fall weather here in Central Indiana!  Normally by now there would have been a hard freeze, possibly snow flurries and maybe a lot of dreary, rainy days.   This year, we have had none of that yet!  I know it's coming and I'm okay with that because I do love the snow, but we have really enjoyed these extra days of sunshine to get in all our fall fun that we could.




Our pumpkins did really well this year.  It was the first time I planted pie pumpkins and we got several.  So far I have 6 cups in the freezer and I have about 4 pumpkins I still need to cook and get in there.  

Our tomato plants did well too.  They are still producing tomatoes!!!  In November!




Each time we've gone on an outing I've told the girls that this is probably the "last chance" that we are going to have because surely next week things will turn.  Then we actually will have another week of perfection.  Cold nights, mild days.  Ahhh.




The flowers are a little confused.  Some are black and "dead" for the winter while others are still blooming.


















Several years ago on a blog, maybe Ginny's, I saw how to dip leaves in melted beeswax to preserve them for a while.  We have done it several times since then.  I love the way the beeswax smells and its fun to dip them.  A very quick, simple, but satisfying project.  We usually string them up and hang them in the window, but you could just pile them in a pretty bowl or tray.


Today was actually cold, wet and dreary, but really, it should be.  It was the perfect day for a little extra reading, dipping leaves and roasting potatoes and sipping hot chocolate.  

I think I'll put in a chic flick while I fold laundry and avoid the election news until tomorrow.  Hmm...You've Got Mail or Poldark?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Whatever Happens in Memphis, Stays in Memphis

Last week I went with my parents and youngest sister on a little road trip.  We went to see our cousin who is currently in Memphis with her husband and son, Cash.  They are there for Cash, who is being treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  


It was a great trip and they are one amazing couple!  They have a wonderful support system back home, 9 hours away, taking care of their other two boys while they are taking care of Cash and helping him get the best care possible.






We got a tour of the housing that has been provided for them and the hospital too.  It made me think when I grow up, I want to work at St. Jude :)  It was so awesome to see this place and to see other families who are there and being helped.   The Target house is so cool!!  Obviously these people would rather be in their own homes, but this is the next best thing!  


This fountain was sooo cool in real life.  The elephants are made of some sort of metal that almost looked like leaves or paper mache.

There were probably over a hundred of these pictures of elephants along the walls.  I don't remember the exact details, but the elephant is a symbol of hope and healing (I think that's what the sign said).  So famous people of all kinds either colored or drew their own versions of elephants.  I should have taken pictures of more of them.  Some of them were especially creative.






There is serious work being done there, but we had lots of fun too. 

 Someone might have gotten lost in a restaurant trying to find their way back from the bathroom. 

 Someone might have snored during the night and in the van. 

 Someone might have laughed until they almost...well, never mind.  

Someone might have told crazy lies to a two year old.  Like, "We can't ride the wagon right now because it needs a bath" and "you can't get down because there is space poop on the floor"!

Someone might have refused to share dessert.

And Someone spent several hours with a little boy who was slightly whiny and clingy so his wife could go out with her family.  {Thank you Andy}


peekaboo!

So far Cash has been able to bounce back pretty well from each treatment.  He has many more to go so if you could keep Cash and his family in your prayers we would all appreciate it!