Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Here are some of the fun things we saw/did.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Taco Salad"

I made the quickest, cleanest, easiest, relatively healthy, and very yummy dinner last night. I am so excited about it, I told Abram we should start having it every night.
I took the remnants from a bag of tortilla chips, crunched them up into bite-sized peices, threw the rest of a bag of salad on top, dumped a drained can of corn, a rinsed/drained can of black beans on that, shredded some cheese and poured some ranch dressing and salsa over all. If you had sliced olives or cooked meat ready, you could add it too. Even the kids liked it. I loved how I didn't have to cook, get my kitchen all hot. I didn't have to make a mess with all sorts of different pans and bowls and stuff to wipe up and it was ready in about two minutes. Sweet!
Lachlan rolled over twice this morning. He just turned 3 months old yesterday. What a sweetie pie he is.
I took some pics of my messy house to show, but I thought it'd be better just to ask : what do you do to keep your house clean? Do you have a rotating schedule, or just clean it all every day? What have you found works best for you?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Musings from Pleasant View School House

This is a copy/paste from one of my favorite blogs : pleasantviewschoohouse.blogpost.com.

maybe I'm weird, but I dig this stuff. :

Friday, May 02, 2008

Lessons from Vintage Fiction

Vintage fiction has been my treasure trove for figuring out how to put together a homemaking life. Old housekeeping manuals will give you out-dated specifics about how to iron or polish the silver the way it was done in the thirties or forties, but it's the mentioned-in-passing daily routine that fascinates me so deeply.

Here's what I have learned about a domestic life, courtesy of Grace Livingston Hill, L.M. Montgomery, and their ilk:

Homemakers have work to do. They get up early and make breakfast, since someone in the family needs sustenance before catching the trolley for a long day at the office. Homemakers have a plan for each day's special tasks. There's really no time to sit around; running a home is a demanding undertaking.

Homemakers dress the part. Need to make beds and clean? Try slipping a little cotton gown right over your nice morning dress to keep it clean. Going out to shop? A smart knitted dress is just right. Staying in for a family dinner? A crimson housegown is just the thing.

Homemakers make things beautiful. A room isn't finished until it reflects the homemaker's love of beauty. A pot of primroses on the dinner table, an embroidered bureau cover on the bedroom chest of drawers, a clean dresser scarf on the buffet in the dining room--creating a home takes attention to detail.

Homemakers think hard about meals. The planning and cooking of meals is an endeavor worthy of time and energy. Meals should be prepared with each day's needs in mind. Are the boys working hard on building a porch? Chocolate cornstarch pudding for dessert, as it can be eaten quickly, and people can get back to their project. No matter what else is going on, careful and appropriate attention must be paid to feeding the family.

Homemakers find out what they need to know. New to the neighborhood and don't know where to shop? Just follow the neighbor lady carrying the basket over her arm. Raised in splendor but married now to a working man? Take a cooking course. One of the privileged elite but ready to do your part for the war? Take that night course in practical nursing.

Homemakers can weather hard times. When money gets tight, they suck it up and move to the unelectrified shack in that rundown part of town and set out daffodils. When the bank fails they get the kerosene lamps and the oil stove out of the attic, and start cooking plain but delicious food. When the apartment's going to be demolished, they cheerfully move into a spacious stone barn for the summer.

Homemakers are indispensable. If mother can't do it, someone else must be found. There's no such thing as a family that runs itself, with every member gone to work or school every day. Without a guiding presence in the house, things go down deep and fast.

Kathryn Albertson Park

We went to K. Albertson park this morning, just the girls and I. We saw 4 turtles, actually got to "pet" one, tons of geese and ducks and red winged blackbirds. That park also has the 'world's largest ponderosa' on display. It is a beautiful natural wildlife habitat with walking paths and foot bridges. Abram thinks of it as a giant bird poop park, but I love it regardless of the goose poop. I thought there would be a lot more babies, we only saw one goose family with 7 goslings. The girls had a great time. We also saw a heron. Once again I should have taken the camera.

Then we went to cash 'n carry, a store that is for restaurants and other types of businesses. They carry bulk foods and all sorts of cooking/serving utensils. I stocked up on my flavored syrups (only $3.78/bottle) so we could make italian sodas. Yummy! We also got some button pork or cushion pork or something that you cook for hours in the crock pot til it falls apart in shreds so we could make sweet pork like the kind at Costa Vida. If you haven't eaten there, try the sweet pork burrito smothered in their tropical ranch salsa. oh YUM! I guess it is the same as Cafe Rio if you have one of those nearby. Thank you forever to Amberlie for introducing me.
Then we finally made it over to the Bear Creek park for the girls to play for a little while. My visiting teaching companion had us over for lunch. The girls had a fabulous time jumping on the tramp, watching Barney and eating burritos and italian sodas. What an excellent day!
My mom got me some more strawberries to finish making more jam. I only got 6 jars out of the last batch because I ran out of pectin.
So I'm already tired out and ready for a nap and haven't done any laundry or cleaning up from the weekend. Maybe some water will help rejuvenate me.
Hope your day is super fun too!
What are you planting in your 'garden' this year?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Eclair Bars

I just took a pan of these to a bridal shower and nearly everyone there asked me for the recipe. I thought I'd better share it with all of you. After all, the more eclair bars there are in the world, the better place it will be. I actually got this recipe from my sis-in-law, Megan. She brought them to a family get-together once and has been "stuck" making them ever since for almost every holiday. I even make them for her when she can't make it. :)

Eclair Bars

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 cube butter
Bring water and butter to boil. Remove from heat.
mix in flour til smooth. Beat in
4 eggs ONE AT A TIME.
Spread into a greased cookie sheet ( good luck with this part)
Bake 400F for 20 min. Cool.

2 small instant pudding pkgs. ( chocolate or vanilla)
3 cups milk
8 oz cream cheese softened
beat well
spread on cooled pastry
spread 8-12 oz cool whip on top.
drizzle with Chocolate syrup
chill or enjoy immediately!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green & Orange Minestrone

Just to relieve all of your tension, the propane truck did come this afternoon. Phew! I've got the dishwasher running and am scheduled for family bath time tonight.
I know you're all going to be disappointed that I'll try not to focus all my posts on scrumptious desserts from now on. Here is a healthy dinner recipe for you. This is one I've been making for a few years now and my family and friends have all approved it. This is the recipe straight from the book, but modify it as you like. If your family doesn't love spinach, maybe use one package of spinach instead of two and up the amount of carrots. This is great for antioxidant power and per serving you get: calories:245, fat:5.5g, sat. fat: .8g, chol: 1.3 mg, sodium: 739 mg, dietary fiber: 7.8 g, beta carotene: 11 mg, vitamin C: 51 mg, calcium: 258 mg, iron: 5.8 mg. Enjoy

Green & Orange Minestrone
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced carrots
two 10 oz pkgs chopped, frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chicken broth diluted with 1 cup water
1/2 cup very small pasta shapes
1 cup canned chick-peas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 TB plus 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese

heat oil over med-hi heat, add garlic & onion, cook 1 min.. stir in carrot cook 2 min.. add spinach, sugar, basil, oregano, salt. and stir to coat. stir in broth, bring to boil. stir in pasta cook til tender. Add the chick-peas, and tomatoes, cook just til heated through. Stir in fresh basil and sprinkle with parmesan.

Fresh Strawberries

Costco had a big 'clamshell' of strawberries for $5 or $6, so I bought some. We ate some fresh, put some on Rowan's cake, used them on Mother's Day crepes (thanks, honey!). Yesterday I finished them off in a strawberry-Rhubarb pie. My grandma Joan has had a rhubarb plant for as long as I can remember and every year my sister and/or I have made a pie or two with it. When we were kids my grandparents used to cut us off a stalk and shred some of the outer 'peel' off and give us a cup of sugar to dip it in and eat. If you haven't had it before, it is incredibly sour, or tart, I guess. I invited my parents and Valentina ( my sis-in-law) to come have some with us even though it was very hard to share. I like to make mine with a crumb topping, which is basically brown sugar, cinammon and butter. It has to be one of the most delicious pies, in my opinion. We went over to my grandma's house to make the pie and she had me make hers with straight rhubarb. wooeeee! that's gotta be tart! I'd love to try it sometime.
Saturday night we took the kids 'fishing'. Aisling finally convinced her dad to buy her that Barbie fishing pole she's been wanting for at least two years. Well, we went over to Settler's Park where they have a small fishing hole. It was a cold night, just before sunset but we had a great time because there was a beautiful heron hanging around. He was waiting for us to leave, it seemed. He had to have been around 4 feet tall. Then everyone few minutes we would see a bright red flash as a fish (koi) would jump out of the pond. There were also a few geese that would fly in and land and the sweetest thing of all was the mother duck sitting on her ducklings. She was so well camouflaged we nearly walked right on top of her. She eventually got up and the ducklings came out. Precious little fluff balls seemed to be floating on the water. So cute! There were 5 of them. The worst part was that this pond is right by the street, Meridian Road which is a semi-busy road at that point and you know all ducks for some strange reason feel the need to take their ducklings across the road at some point. It is a sad time around here when the ducklings are orphaned or the babies get squished. Sorry about that depressing thought.
We don't have any gas lines out here in the country, so we are hooked up to propane. We have a huge 500 gallon tank to heat our water (which is how we heat the house). Since we had such a miserable winter freezing our tushies while paying a mint to do so, we decided to try to get ourselves 'un-dependent' of propane. We bought two huge heaters this winter that run off electricity, we had our Uncle John come and install a 220 to change out the dryer to run off electric and we have been planning to put in an electric tankless water heater. We had hoped to do that this weekend, but left my dad out of the loop. He's the one who needs to get it for us.
Anyway, since we were hoping to get that put in, we were thinking we wouldn't need to refill the tank. The last time it was filled was over $1200 and the price has gone up since then. So now we are nearly empty and don't know when they will come deliver some propane, so in the meantime we can't use any hot water. No laundry, no dishes, no showers. I hope they come today!! things are gonna get stinky real quick!
Abram took Aisling to work with him today. She loves it! And sadly, so do I. It is so much more calm around here. She is, how shall I say, SuperCharged. She is running 1 million miles an hour and very loud too. The only way to calm her down is use of the plug-in-drug, TV, which all good mothers regret to use, but do fall back on at times :) It is good for her to get that one-on-one attention she needs. We do miss her while she's gone, but enjoy the peace!
Remember what I said about going straight from winter to summer? Well, it has been a bit nippy around here, but it's supposed to be in the nineties by Saturday. Where is the justice? All I want is a little spring weather, like 70F for a week or two.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cookies again

Here is a new recipe we tried this weekend. it's Easy!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups quick oats
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz milk chocolate chips

Bake 350F 10-12 min. Makes 5 dozen

Here is a pic of my new beautiful stove with a huge window to see the delicious cookies baking. It is convection too, so theoretically I could bake all the cookies at once. I haven't tried that yet.

We really are enjoying the lovely weather. I wish it could be in the 70's all year! Guess we'd better move to Hawaii or So Cal. Wouldn't that be nice? Where is your ideal place to live?

Our silly-looking puppy has a formal name: Prince Caspian. However, what he gets called all the time is Poochie-poo or Poochers or Pooch-Pooch. It seems to fit. :)

Lachlan seems to like being bundled in the sling. When I'm working outside I tote him around in there so Rowan can't get to him while my back is turned. He really is an angel baby. The only times he cries you know he's either hungry or tired. He never cries for "no apparent reason" like the girls did. He just hangs out and then you swaddle him up, give him a binky and lay him down so he can go to sleep. He loves to be on his back looking around at everything and smiling at everyone. We all adore him.

Rowan Elle Grisham : 2 Year Old

I am a silly little girl who loves to make people laugh. I am a free-spirited butterfly, but a tough cookie to crack. I flit from place to place but if I don't want to smile, just you try and make me.
I take everything on my own terms!
Favorite Food: Anything CHOCOLATE
Favorite Toy: Anything Brenna has. Anything having to do with water or Baby Lachlan.
Favorite Thing: Binky!
I can hold my own against my two big sisters and think it's quite fun to tease Brenna (because she gets SO upset about it)
Aisling is my best chum. Although I still prefer Mom & Dad for now.
I am a tough kid, not a cry baby. Something that would keep my sisters in tears for an hour might get 30 seconds of crying from me. Even big owies.
When I'm tired I like to suck on my binky and rub my hair between my fingers with a blanky. I'm doing very well staying in my bed all night most of the time and I'll probably be moving from my crib mattress on the floor to the trundle bed soon. I get to sit up to the table now too in a booster chair! Good-Bye High chair!
Next milestone: potty training! :) When *I'm* ready!

Everybody loves me a lot! ( Even Brenna )

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May Day

Thank Goodness! I think spring is finally here! It has been the longest winter I can remember. I'm beginning to think people around here are wrong. Boise does not have 4 seasons. It is winter forever, spring for a week, then it is blazing hot all summer. We get Autumn for a few days then back into winter again.
We have been working on the yard. Poor Abram has been trying to fix the sprinkler system (the main valve broke) he had to dig a hole more than 6 feet deep, climb in there and try to get to this little pipe which has another pipe stuck in it etc etc. Needless to say, he has been a *little* bit frustrated with it for the past few days. He doesn't have much time to work on things around here, so he is upset he has to *waste* time on these fix-it projects when he'd rather be doing 'profitable' projects. He's also spent a few hours trying to fix the hottub. Thank Goodness my dad can do all that stuff too. I'm so lucky to have two amazing men around.
While Abram was digging the hole, he found a baby toad. He is so cute! We played with him for awhile and then took him to the canal and watched him float downstream to a new home. the next day I was at the canal again and nearly stepped on a 6 ft Bull snake. I brought the family down to see it and Abram caught it for them and let them pet his tail. It was very cool. Later that day while spraying chemicals on all the dandelions I found a fallen nest and it still had an egg in it.I wish I'd gotten a picture. It was just a bit bigger than a jelly bean and tan with black speckles. Brenna accidentally broke it not too much later. It was just runny, no baby bird had started to form. The nest was really neat to inspect. It is really amazing these armless/handless creatures can create something so cozy and well made. This was the softest nest I've ever seen.
We had a family photo shoot a few weekends ago. Chad & Jill (my bro & sis-in-law) cAme over and took pics of the whole fam damily. They are very talented. You can visit their website at www.transtrumphotography.com. They took some really adorable pics yet again. If they keep this up my whole house walls will be covered in family pictures. Look at Baby Lachlan!