Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meet Carla Sue


We have a new addition to the family.

We adopted this sweet lady  from another owner (whom I owe tons and tons of thanks) who upgraded. Shh don't tell Carla Sue. We don't want her feelings to get hurt.

We couldn't be happier. I have been loving her from a far for quite awhile. I mean, have you seen her lens.  Stunning.


Now I just need to get to know her better and make sure we let her shine and use all of her vast, vast talents.
We wouldn't want her hiding her light under a bushel now would we?

Hopefully some light ready will help.


P.S. I am the Dummy.

The first picture of the Dummy and Carla Sue.

I love her already.


Hopefully you will see some snazzier photos on the blog soon.

Have a delightful Saturday. We are headed to Yellowstone to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather. Carla Sue will be joining us of course.

Thanks for stopping by friends!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pumpkin Chili


Several years ago, when we still lived in Ohio, we took ourselves to a local small town festival. Not just any festival though. Mid October if you head to Circleville, Ohio you will find a happy quaint little town celebrating pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins.

Besides the normal fair activities, we were also enthralled with displays of pumpkins of all sizes.  Pumpkins, pumpkins,and MORE pumpkins.

Then there was the pumpkin inspired food. Pumpkin burgers, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin chili.

I haven't forgotten that sweet little Pumpkin Festival. I haven't forgotten that sweet little bit of Midwestern Fall.

Thanks to my reminiscing, I seemed to remember that pumpkin can go in more than just pie and bread. I mean don't get me wrong it I quite enjoy pumpkin bread, as you might recall from my recent recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.

Recently we had a chillier day, which by it's very implication means I must make chili.

Chili+Fall+Pumpkin Festival memories= PUMPKIN CHILI.

This recipe is just my kind of chili. It is a hearty chili but not overly spicy. The pumpkin is just lovely. Then add in a little bit of brown sugar and some pumpkin pie spice and BAM, this chili is brought to a whole new level.

Pumpkin spice and brown sugar, "what is this a pie?"

Don't judge it till you try it. The taste of this chili is great. Just trust me.

Top it with sour cream, cheese, maybe some toasted pumpkin kernels. Oh and don't forget the corn bread.


Pumpkin Chili
adapted from FumilyFun.com

2 pounds ground beef (90/10) or ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1 (12 oz) bottle of chili sauce (condiment found in the ketchup aisle)
1 cup beef broth
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, brown beef or turkey with the chopped onion. Drain excess grease.

Add in all the remaining ingredients and stir well to mix.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Serve with grated cheese and sour cream.

Happy pumpkin enjoying.

Thanks for reading, you are grand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Pinteresting Wednesday: Planning an Avengers Birthday


Have you missed me, er uh I mean me blogging?

Just humor me and tell me that you have. Humor me and tell me that I am a bright and shiny spot in your day and that you have missed my wit and effervescent personality.

Needy much?

Yup, it is the truth.

Today I am not even sharing a completed Pinterest project for this A Pinteresting Wednesday. Shock. Gasp.

I feel like I am in the beginning/middle of a hundred different projects. Not a single one of them are complete. Ugh.

The majority of my projects right now are all about The Avengers. Very fitting don't you think since the movie just came out. LOVE hunky superheros the movie.

In a few weeks there we will be calling the Avengers to assemble out our house for the celebration of Middle's birthday. This theme was a last minute change and I am loving it.

I had a couple of ideas, but when I needed some more I knew right where to go.

PINTEREST, the party planners friend. Not only can I search for ideas, but when I find ideas on the internet I can pin them to my Avengers Party board. I add to this board quite often.

 Thanks to my board I am in the process of making some Avengers felt masks, popsicle stick bookmarks, and a puzzle. I also am now really trying to justify why I need to buy the full-sized cut out of Captain America. Plus I am pretty sure I have to buy several sets of the Avengers Pez containers.

I am also working on the decorations. I grabbed some of this really fun fabric.


I am deciding on which colors to decorate with, you know how I like good color themed decorations. I am excited on how all my ideas are going to play out...the ones that get done anyway...hahaha.

I have a whole list of party games in my head. Now all I need is a BUNCH of cardboard to make it work. Anyone want to give me some???

That last thing I am contemplating for this party is if I should do lunch. This add in my Sunday mailer may have sealed the deal. Do you think I can buy them now and freeze these for the party?


Could you just die??

I am super excited. Hopefully I will get everything in my head done. I have a lot of projects to do and a lot of things to show you...not just all Avengers.

Thanks for hanging around. I sure appreciate every single reader.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In a Nutshell: My Boys


I am feeling a bit hormonal sappy this week.

Sometimes in the midst of check-lists, obligations, appointments, errands, menu-making, projects and such I forget to stop and notice the really important going-ons around me.

I forget, if you will, to take out my mental camera and capture the precious moments.

My precious moments involving four Little Men gifted to me by a very, very generous Heavenly Father.

Part of this week was spent with Hubby out of town. While there is a bit of hanging on by my teeth and just waiting for him to come home, I have tried to cherish the just Mom and boys time. Besides a few moments of utter chaos and pure desperation, we have had a good time.

I have four delight boys that are delightfully different. I am proud to be their Momma. I am beyond grateful.

Allow me to further the sappiness by sharing pictures I have taken of each of them recently. None of them for project, blog, or portrait purposes.

I took them as a Mom wanting to keep a memory.

Oldest:
I was actually taking pictures for a food post coming soon.
As I was putting my camera away, he said I should take a picture of him
taking a bite of a muffin.

I love that I captured his one dimple.
I love that I know he was making a thumbs up indicating "yum good".
I love that he came up with the idea.
I love that this was his little way of supporting all my blog craziness.
I am glad I let dinner get just that much colder so I could snap his picture too.

Middle:
He is all about being a football player.
His favorite thing to do is put on his Ohio State jersey...
(Yup he is still an Ohio State fan even in Idaho)
and his football shorts.
(That is what he calls his pj shorts)

He sleeps in this outfit.
He wants to wear it all day.
He wants me to sew foam into it so he can be a real player with pads.
I even let him wear this to the store.
Someday the football won't look so giant in his hands. 

Little:
Gah, I LOVE that face.
His little squinty-eyed grin.
I love that you can tell he is saying "cheese".

We were off to preschool again.
This day I was in love with his rockin' outfit and just had
to snap a picture.

He has been so excited to be in preschool.
Every day he asks if he gets to go to school.
All of his new pants he calls his "preschool pants". 

Bean:
Oh that face. 
Can anyone get enough of that face.

I haven't made it a secret to anyone that Bean was a surprise to our family.
What a wonderful, utterly fantastic surprise!

I snapped this picture of him hanging out while I was doing something or other...like I feel I always am.
He sits there content most of the time. I wanted to capture how he puts up with me leaving him in his chair.

Instead I captured this. This is the face he makes when I or anyone else he loves comes near.

Immediate grin.
Which produces more immediate grins from anyone close by.
Can you see those teeny tiny adorable teeth?

Thanks for letting me go on about my love for these boys.

I am a normal Momma and not every second of every day is sunshine and roses. There are days when I am simply commanding the somewhat insolent troops through the trenches.

But they are my troops and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Thanks again for letting me indulge in the sappiness.

Have you indulged lately in what makes you sappy?

I highly recommend it. It will be good for you heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Canning Salsa


What? I am canning again...I know shocking.

I just can't seem to help myself. I have caught the canning bug and I just can't seem to stop.

Okay that is not true, there will be stopping soon. I may love the product of canning, but I have about run out of the energy to can.

Plus I am running out of jars.

Before my steam completely ran out we decided to can one more thing.

All thanks to some tomatoes.

See we had a plethora of tomatoes...I know fancy words, right. Yeah, I am all smart and stuff like that. Thanks to my junior year of high school rhetoric.

I am pretty sure plethora is the only vocab word I remember from that course. My poor teacher would be disappointed if he found out. So shhhh, don't tell him.

Anyway, back to my plethora of tomatoes.

With all these tomatoes, I decided it was time I learned to can salsa.

I used THIS recipe An Oregon Cottage.

Not too spicy. Not too mild. Perfect consistency.  The ingredients are easy to find.

The salsa comes together super easy. Even, say absolutely hypothetically, if you don't have a food processor and have to chop everything up with a tiny bullet baby food maker in like four batches. Hypothetically of course.

If you too have a plethora of tomatoes...


AND you like some chips and salsa...

Well, then make some salsa. Heck, you don't even have to can this if you don't want to. Just put a lid on it and store it in your fridge. Have it with some chips anytime your little heart desires.

Ole'.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Zucchini Cake


Heaven.
Help.
Me.

Yum and double yum. I will take two pieces...okay twist my arm, three.

Recently I was the lucky recipient of a giant zucchini. GIANT. My friend was probably relieved I took this off her hands, but since zucchini can make me stuff like this cake, I will gladly accept any zucchini dropped on my doorstep.


I better be careful what I wish for. A girl can only really use so much zucchini. I have already used it in cake and bread. Muffins are probably in the horizon. I have used mixed it into a family favorite taco bake. I paired up zucchini with yellow squash and made a squash bake. My freezer might also have some bags of shredded zucchini resting for a rainy day.

This cake would make any day splendid. The chocolate cake is moist and perfectly cakey. But what really takes the cake...whew man I am funny...

Sorry.

Continue. Okay what takes the cake, or should I say tops the cake, is what makes this cake.

That was a really confusing way of saying the brown sugar, pecan, and milk chocolate chip mixture on top of this cake is glorious.

Zucchini, have you met brown sugar, pecan, and milk chocolate?

You haven't?

Well, let me introduce you...you will be fast friends.


Do you have some extra zucchini? Do you have a neighbor who has been begging and pleading for you to take their extra zucchini?

My suggestion. Take it. Shred it. Make this cake.

Then eat this cake.


Chocolate Pecan Zucchini Cake
Jamie Cooks It Up

Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups shredded zucchini

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix softened butter, oil, sugar, and eggs until creamy. About 3 minutes.

In separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda.

Pour buttermilk and vanilla into the wet mixture. Then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.

Now stir in the zucchini until combined.

Pour into a well greased 9x13 pan. Smooth the batter evenly in the pan.

Mix up the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. DO NOT over bake. Even with zucchini in it, it will dry out if you cook it too long.
The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out cleanly.

This cake is great warm. Great later that night. Great days later. If you can keep it around that long, that is.

Happy zucchini using!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Pinteresting Wednesday: Magnetic Fridge Puzzle




Between the hours of 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm in our house is a period of time I like to call the witching hour.

Does this happen in your house?

About 4:30 the natives come up and are a little restless. They are carrying pitchforks and torches...okay more like Nerf guns, but you get the picture of insanity I am painting.

In the Chaos I have to repeat the same conversation over and over and over and OV-AH again.

Middle: "Mom I am starving!"
Mom: "Great! I am making dinner right now."
Little: "I need something to eat with my teeth."
Mom: "Perfect. Making dinner."
Middle: "Mahhhhm. I am STARRRRRVING! I need food now."
While climbing through the panty Little: "I want a treat."
Mom: "Nope. Making dinner."

Repeat conversation.
Pulling my hair out.
Repeat conversation again.

So when I came across THIS PIN while searching my For The Kiddos pinboard for this weeks A Pinteresting Wednesday candidate, well let's just say there was some major celebrating. By celebrating I mean, clapping my hands ever so quietly since Bean was asleep.

So the project seemed easy enough.

Take a puzzle. Luckily we have several sitting around.


Grab some sticky back magnets. Again, lucky me I had some laying around.


You will probably want to make sure all the puzzle pieces are there. That is some kind of miracle at our house.


Cut up the magnet strips, one for each puzzle piece.


Peel the paper off the magnet pieces, adhere to puzzle pieces by pressing the sticky side of the magnet to the back side of the puzzle piece firmly.


I was prompted to take the whole project a little further when I had the sudden horrifying image of puzzle pieces scattered about and sliding under the fridge. Poor puzzle pieces. In my head they had no home to go to.

I am not sure why it became imperative for magnetic fridge puzzle pieces to have a home, but it did.

So I made them one out of their existing box.

I cut a rectangular chunk out of the top, so the picture is right side up and facing the front.


Then I took the bottom of the puzzle box and cut it in half.


I hot glued the bottom into the box top like so.


Next I rounded up some stronger little magnets.


Then I hot-glued them to the back.


Then I stuck it strategically on the fridge to snare all ravenous natives.

And what do you know?

Victory. It worked.


Food-seeking rampage averted.

One pretty fun activity completed.


The Magnetic Fridge Puzzle was a hit. The only slit bump in complete puzzle fun was that sometimes the pieces were hard to get together without the piece popping off the fridge. That is when a little Momassistance was needed.

When the puzzle was done, dinner was pretty close to being done as well.

Plus Middle was so happy with finishing the puzzle by himself he didn't even notice he was STARVING anymore.

I am thinking there will be more Magnetic Fridge Puzzles in our future.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Costumes 2012 Sneak Peak and a Costume Flashback


Sorry for my lack of posting last week. I have been up to no good...hehehe...

Yup, that is right, the official Costumes of 2012 sewing extravaganza has begun. Where for weeks I try to get the picture in my head to materialize from piles of fabric into actual costumes.

There is guessing and guessing, and dumb luck, and more guessing and eventually I end up with some costumes.

I am excited for this year's theme.

I have had it in mind since the last stitch was sewn on last year's costumes.

Can you guess from my sneak peak what might be in store?

I will give you some clues...

That is Bean's hairy-riffic costume pictured above.
The boys will all follow a theme.
Two oldest are fighting over the same costume, they both want to be on the same light side.
Little, well cute he shall be.

Have you figured it out yet?

Please do tell...

I also thought it would be fun to do a flashback of Halloween Costumes of years past. It was fun/horrifying to go back and see all my different labors of love. You will see in the most recent years, not only is my camera/photography better (do NOT judge the first few pictures, I am not sure I even knew what a DLSR was), but I also actually started sewing some of the costumes by 2010.

BUT every single year was a boat load of fun and of course they had to have a theme since I am more than just mildly obsessed with themes.

Enjoy the flashback, and enjoy a good laugh on me around the year 2004.

My Supers  

Toy Story 3, Little Alien not pictured 

Costumes of Astronomical Proportions
Alien, Astronaut, Shooting Star
My first major sewing attempt. 

Classic Batman and Robin 

Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat
Store bought and sewn for me.
I handled the foam...wo jump back! 

Paiging Dr. McCutiePatootey.
Last Time Hubby and I dressed up too. 

Ahhh...2004...Youngins'

Crocodile, The Crocodile Hunter and His Wife
Thanks Ebay for the costume!
Cargo Khakis, yup they came from my current wardrobe.

Ahh, good times. 

I have loved putting together all of these costumes with whatever skill set I had at the time. I know I will be a little sad when I no longer have a say in all the costumes. I am guessing this is my last year with Oldest. The older two are already bucking my idea. So I am sure next year I will have no say.

But it has been one Costume-tastic ride.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


Oh Fall. You know I love you.

I wait all stinking Summer long for your crisp refreshing days. I wait for the chance to don a cardigan and pair of knee-high boots. I wait for apple cider. I wait for leaves to change. I wait for soup. I wait to throw open all the windows. We I for college football. I wait for Halloween and for Thanksgiving. I wait for costume-making. I wait for Turkey. I wait for all things pumpkin, well except pumpkin pie...sorry it is the truth, I can't stand pumpkin pie.

Finally my wait is pretty much over.

I know the calendar in all of its stinginess won't allow me to say it is Fall...

..but shhhh don't tell...

'Cause it feels like Fall, so I am saying it is Fall.

Watch out! I like to live on the edge.

So with my arms stretched out wide to welcome my dear old friend Fall, I must bake something for her (I debated and debated whether fall was a he or a she...since she is my dear old friend I figured she must be a girl).

I chose this.


Oh my word.

Fall you lucky, lucky gal. Just for you, a glaze drizzled loaf of chocolate chip pumpkin bread.


So. Delightfully. Good.

This recipe is legendary in Hubby's family. It comes by way of my SIL's family. This recipe as been tweaked and altered and perfected by her family until it became the loaf of pumpkin bread everyone wanted. A loaf of this bread could be used for currency if gold ever ceased to exist.

Yes it is that fantastic.

So are you in the process of welcoming Fall too?

I am sure she would like another loaf of this bread, or two, or 20, or 200...

So all of you, go ahead make you her some Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.

She will love you for it.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup oil
3/4 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (plain, not pumpkin pie puree)
4 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Glaze:
powdered sugar
milk
lemon juice

Preheat Oven to 350.

Grease and flour a large loaf pan (or a few smaller loaf pans). Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. Add dry ingredients until well combined. Add chocolate chips.

Fill greased pans about 3/4 full.

Bake large loafs for 1 hour. Bake smaller pans for 35 minutes.

Mix glaze ingredients to desired consistency. Basically start with a larger amount of sugar and add small amounts of milk and lemon juice to thin it out.

Remove loaf from oven. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Remove carefully from pan onto a cookie rack. Drizzle with glaze.


Slice it up.

Invite Fall in.

Have her take a seat.

Enjoy some pumpkin delightfulness.

Sharing:

Friday Flair: Whipperberry
Sweet Treats: Something Swanky
Pity Party: Thirty Handmade Days

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Freezing Fresh Peppers


Summer is closing it's doors.

School has started.

Nights are getting chillier.

Days are slowly dropping in degrees.

My favorite shows will be starting soon.

Gardens are thinning out.

Since I don't live somewhere warm and mild all year, it is almost time to bid adieu to fresh produce.

Adieu fresh, beautiful, lovely produce...



When will I see you again?

Please don't go...

Hey, how about you stay? 

Let's strike deal. You will go in the freezer and I will partake of your lovely freshness all winter long.

Anyone else wondering why the heck I am talking to peppers?

Whoosh...

I am losing both my fresh produce AND my marbles.

But seriously, do you get sad when fresh produce starts getting hard to find?

The solution:

Why freeze them o'course.

Now, obviously, you can't freeze all produce. But for the stuff you can, get your freeze on and enjoy all winter long.

Let's talk about freezing peppers.

First, wash your fresh peppers.

Cut off the tops.


Cut them in half.


Careful of those spicy little seeds.

Clean 'em out by cutting out the seeds and membranes.


Then dice them all up.


Lay them out flat on a cookie sheet.


Place them in the freezer and let them chill out (hahaha...sorry I had to) until they are completely frozen..

Then put them in a labeled freezer bag and promptly store in your freezer.


Then on some winter day when you need fresh peppers for, oh I don't know, taco soup, chili, salsa, anything pepper-riffic, you will be able to go to the freezer grab some peppers, reminisce a little, and then cook them up.

Go on now, stock up your freezer. Come Winter you will be glad you did.
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