Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Chance!!

Two years ago today our grandson, Chance, was born.

We celebrated yesterday with lunch, and of course cake and ice cream.
One gift we gave him was a little tool set which included a little drill.
He was very busy "fixing" everything!
Who would have guessed he would be so full of energy and spunk! 
Happy Birthday, Chance!!  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

4-H Fun!

For years we had four kids in 4-H!

If you are/have been involved with 4-H you will realize what a job we had in store for us at fair time!!! Of course Bud was always in charge of making sure the kids did what they needed to with the animals--breaking cattle, feeding & watering, grooming, and bathing them. He was also in charge of any woodworking projects. I was in charge of cooking, sewing, personal development, and almost anything that didn't fall under animals or woodworking. It was stressful, but we have good memories.

We feel that our kids benefitted a great deal from 4-H. They learned many domestic skills, but more importantly they learned to be good public speakers, they gained confidence, they learned to take criticism(from the judges), they learned to evaluate something they had done and figure out how to improve it, and they learned that life isn't fair. We are so glad that we encouraged our children to be involved in 4-H and not let them quit when their friends did(in middle school). And really the EASY thing for us as parents would have been to let them quit.

We are lucky enough now that our grandchildren are getting old enough to be involved in 4-H. This was Payton's first year in 4-H. One thing he did was called, "Pride of Iowa". He had to show how t o make something that was made of food grown in Iowa, but he didn't have to talk. He was judged on a variety of things, including the way he presented himself and his food.

He did a great job!
Cael and Payton were in the celebrity cattle show. Cael was partnered with a Iraq War Vet.

They won the show!

Grayson came to watch his cousins show their cattle.

Grandpa is trying to teach him about cattle!

It was Kids Day at the fair, so free activities were provided.

Cael just might be taking up more than his share of the sandbox!

We found a shady place to have our picnic lunch and relax.(It was about 115 heat index!). The boys horses around while we visited.

I love watching the grandchildren interact!

I suspect we will be watching our grandchildren in 4-H for many years to come!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Food For Thought!

SO TRUE!!!!!!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Planning Ahead

When all four of my kids were still home and everyone was involved in activities I used to plan our menus for a month, and I often cooked ahead for the week. It made mealtime and grocery shopping so much easier. With just the two of us I don't do that anymore.

From time to time I do throw some casseroles in the freezer. We officially go back to school tomorrow, so it's back to a routine again! Typically we are both EXHAUSTED in the evening during the first week of school. That's when we look at each other and decide we will get something from someplace or go somewhere for supper. This year I decided to try to be prepared for that, so today I cooked.

I now have four suppers in the freezer ready for those nights when we're too tired to cook.

Spaghetti is one of Bud's favorites. I can stick this in the oven, or we can just take out as much as we want and nuke it. A slice of garlic bread and we're good to go.

Sheperd's Pie is always tasty. I'll throw a little cheese on top and bake it. Add salad or a fruit. YUM!

Taco soup is always good. We like to garnish it with cheese, sour cream, and Doritoes. I can put this in the crockpot or just heat up what we want.

Tater Tot Casserole is ready to go. I bake mine a bit then add the tater tots at the end. Actually I don't usually put peas and corn in my tater tot casserole, but I mixed up and put the mashed potatoes on the tater Tot mixture, and this is the shepherd's pie mixture! LOL Oh well, it will still be good.

With the occasional grilled chicken breast or hot dog we should be good for supper and lunches for the first week of school.

Planning ahead is good for three things:
1. Saves time
2. Saves money
3. Saves calories

I'd love to hear your ideas for freezer friendly meals.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Chi Town!

In July I spent a few days in Chicago with Mom, my sister, my sister-in-law, two aunts, and a cousin.

We were there to celebrate Mom's 70th birthday which was last year, and my aunt's 75th which is coming up.

Mom and Aunt Ruth had already spent some time in Iowa, Aunt Corrine and my SIL, Gay, flew in so we could ride together. Our first stop was IKEA.

Most of us had never been to IKEA. A lot of my co-workers love it, so I thought we should check it out. Who knew they sold fabric???!!!!

           I'm thinking these may end up as backing for some kid quilts!
I also bought this toy for our toy box. It reminds me of one my kids used to have, except of course, there are more plastic parts.

Once we got checked into our motel we went down the street to check out the martini bar, Knickerbockers.

My sister and I tried to keep the ladies occupied while we went back to meet up with our cousin, Alyssa, who was flying in from AZ to surprise her mom. Thank goodness for Gay who did a good job herding them after a flurry of texts! Aunt Corrine was very surprised!

Navy Pier was our highlight of the evening. The fireworks were great! The Chicago skyline was beautiful after dark.

We spent the next VERY hot and humid day touring on this:

Its a great way to see a city unless it is your tour guide's second day of work,, he doesn't know much, and he keeps using "frickin"!!!!! ( Right, Gay?)

We toured downtown, China Town....
and Little Italy.

That evening we went to the Cadillac Theatre to see....

The theatre was very ornate and beautiful, and the musical was excellent!  I think everyone enjoyed it.

We also had an Architectural tour on the river.

Wouldn't you know it rained from the time we pulled out until we pulled back into the dock!!!!

Some of us were brave enough to step out on the Skydeck at Willis (Sears) Tower, some of us.....not so much!

Of course there was some shopping on the Magnificent Mile!

It was the first time I've stood in line just to get INTO a store. Wouldn't you know it was for food!--

One of Oprah's Favorite Things, 2010!

Of course we had to eat! Gay had a list, so Chicago style deep dish pizza was on it. As were Italian beef sandwiches, and of course Chicago style hot dogs!

We, of course, had all three! Yummmmm.

We dropped Alyssa at the airport and headed back to Iowa for the night. The Texans(Mom, Gay, Aunt Ruth, &Aunt Corrine) left brit and early the next day. I know I had a great time.

Now, off to plan next year's trip!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Iowa State Fair

Last week we took a road trip to Des Moines.
First stop--DES Moines Science Center to view the Body Worlds exhibit. I've wanted to see it for a long time, so I was thrilled to be able to go. Body Worlds is a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomical structures. SO COOL! I'd love to show you a picture, but I couldn't get one to copy. Google it for more info and pics.

Next stop--Iowa State Fair. My highlight of the fair is trying a new food. This year it was red velvet funnel cake.

YUM! I'll be having one again next year!

A strawberry smoothies is a must!
And a pork chop on a stick was so delicious I gobbled it down without a picture.

I spent a lot of time looking at the quilts while Bud did his thing.
It's hard to understand why some quilts get the ribbons they are awarded. I'd like to know what the judges were thinking.

These are t-shirt quilts like I've put off making for my kids. I've really got to get those done!

Some quilts were very "artsy". What a lot of work!

Love the candy corn quilt!

To end our day we saw a fantastic concert by The Oak Ridge Boys!

They performed for almost two hours on a free stage. We last saw them in Cedar Rapids at their Christmas Concert, but we used to see them on the grandstand back in the 80s. They were as good as ever!

There's nothing like the Iowa Stat Fair!
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flowers and Ladybugs

I made a cute little hat for Clara, but it was too small. :(

It has the cutest little ladybugs and flowers.

And it is reversible.

I'm going to have to find another little girl with a smaller head to wear it!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

S'Mores Bars

Who doesn't like S'Mores?? These bars are the next best thing!!

S'Mors Bars

11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper. I used one 11x17 pan and one 9x13 pan but you can really use any sized pans you want.

Lay out graham crackers side by side on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching). I used 16 graham cracker squares on one pan and 10 squares on another.

You may have to add or remove graham crackers according to how much dough you have. If you want your cookies thicker you will use more dough and less graham crackers.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixer and combine on low speed.

Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight.

Place tablespoons of dough on graham crackers about 1 – 1 ½ inches apart. Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes then remove from oven to press Hershey’s bar pieces on to the top. You can place as many pieces or as little as you want depending how much chocolate flavor you want.

Bake for 5 – 7 more minutes or until dough is beginning to turn golden brown at the edges.

Remove to a wire rack to cool. For clean cutting make sure cookies are completely cool and cut with a sharp knife.

They are very yummy, but next time I'm leaving out the cinnamon.(We don't put cinnamon on our S'Mores!)
I got this recipe here:

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tasha!

Thirty years ago today our little red-headed daughter was born.

Happy Birthday, Tasha!

(only one of my kids is under 30! How did that happen???)
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Rest and Relaxation

We were able to spend the weekend camping at the reservoir. We had a beautiful view.

Bud did a little fishing.

I did a little reading.

And I did some sewing, but I can't share it yet as it's a gift. The campground was very quiet and it was a nice relaxing weekend.
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