Monday, September 22, 2008

Our California Adventure

In August, we trekked south to the Red Bluff area of California for our annual pilgrimage to see our dear friends. We always plan to go on the weekend of Ide Adobe Days, which is a fun celebration at a local state park.

I'm just now getting the pictures of that fantastic weekend up on the blog. Enjoy!

Micah fell hopelessly in love with my sweet friend, Susanna. Who can blame him? She is so much fun!!

There's nothing better than ice cold lemonade on a hot day.

There were two guys with instruments making great music all afternoon near the shade tree where we set up our headquarters in the grass.

Daniel sat down, first thing when we arrived, for an old fashoned shave.

The girls enjoyed making corn husk dolls with the help of patient docents.

Noah is slipping into the ranks of young adulthood, as evidenced by the fact that this is the only picture I took of him all day... rats. I'll do better next time! (He's making a candle.)

Anna made dolls, too.

Daniel's favorite part was running around with his good buddy.

They even tried their hand at the cross cut saw.

Everyone enjoyed the candle making. We came home with many interesting candles.

Mary liked the horse.

Here, Andrew and Mary are playing an old fashioned game where you try to pull the other person off of the box.

There was home made ice cream, too!

Andrew's favorite things were making candles (he made several) and washing clothes by hand... who would have thought?

All in all, it was a magical day full of fun and fellowship. Relaxing under the big oak trees with good friends on a hot summer day felt like the best vacation ever. The kids had a blast trying out all the activities and collecting souvenirs.

We are so blessed to be able to enjoy such bounty. And to come home with such great memories!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Just Keep Pie-ling It On

Who knew a pie crust recipe could change my life?

This afternoon, Roger ran the peeler/slicer/corer for "thank you pies" for the lady who gave us all the apples.

Then, Anna and Mary insisted on doing enough more apples to make a pie for US.

I used up all the pie crust I had put in the freezer the other day and I ended up with this:
Which we ate after dinner.

And I made these:
Which are unbaked, frozen pies for the apple lady.

But the really important part...

Roger said the apple pie may have been the BEST HE'S EVER EATEN.

Y'all, Roger grew up in the South. I have learned, since marrying him, to make great fried chicken and mashed potatoes with the skins on and all manner of other yummy Southern food. But I've never, in fourteen and a half years, been able to get the pie right.

All I can say is,

Thanks again, Amy!!

(Oh, and I have resigned myself to the fact that pie is now part of my life... and I may some day weigh 300 pounds... but what a way to get there!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Such a Good Day

God has been so patiently, quietly teaching me new things in that way that He does. This has been the week I've been dreaming of for so long. We're settling back into a fall routine, recovering from the busyness of summer and refocusing on home and all the simple pleasures and productive pursuits to be found here.

Today, I had the joy of spending the afternoon with a godly, sweet friend who has that wonderful eternal perspective that is so rare and precious. We always talk non stop when we're together and then feel like there is so much more to say at the end of the day. And so very little, if any, of it is idle chatter.

On this particular occasion, we made apple sauce while we talked. I may have mentioned here before that our family is blessed with friends who share more apples with us than we know what to do with every year. I always try to get lots of the apples put up as sauce, so that we can enjoy it all year long. I also share lots of apples with my friends for their families. The dear friend who joined me today had not canned apple sauce before, so I had the joy of showing her just how easy it can be and then sending her home with beautiful jars of healthy goodness. It was a delightful day. Together, we made four gallons of apple sauce.

But, more importantly, we shared our hearts and spurred one another on toward love and good deeds.

I feel so abundantly blessed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Regarding Pie

There has been some serious falling down in the Low Carbohydrate Diet Department, thanks to Amy's Pie Crust...

I already told you about the blackberry:

Which was met with rave reviews by my toughest critics:

Today, an $.87 pumpkin from The Walmarts became this...

It's the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted. In fact, it's so good that I decided to wait an extra day or two to become skinny again.

I made the mistake of reading the sweetened condensed milk can label.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY grams of carbs from that ingredient alone. Wow!

I'll just have to feed the rest to my kids - QUICK!

Thanks again, Amy!

Oh, and by the way, I made the crust yesterday and I quadrupled the recipe, divided it into eight portions and froze them. This morning, I got one out and let it warm up a little on the counter and rolled it out between sheets of plastic wrap. It's just as fantastic as it was on the blackberry pie! I'm guessing you could keep it in the freezer for a while.

You know... just in case a small pumpkin falls into your cart at The Walmarts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Whew! The last couple of weeks have been very full.

We managed to get started with swim team and flag football and Awana and the Boy Scout popcorn sale last week. In the middle of it all, we picked apples at a friend's house, so I've been busy making applesauce.

In all, it's been really a great week and I'm feeling like it's really good to be headed into fall and back into a busy groove of activities and home school and home making. We're all looking forward to STAYING HOME for a few weeks or even months!

Part of my flurry of activity has been spending LOTS of time in the kitchen. In the process, I've enjoyed some old tried-and-true recipes and discovered some new ones, too.

The most amazing and thrilling kitchen discovery came courtesy of my friend, Amy. The same Amy who inspired me to post my granola recipe, which has been the cause of the vast majority of visits to my blog. Thanks, Amy! [Waving]

Anyway, my super-duper husband goes to Amy's house once a month for church deacons meetings. And Amy always serves some yummy dessert. A few times, Amy has served PIE... mmmmmm... Roger is a pie lover. I don't make pie much because I've never been able to get a handle on making a good pie crust. I have tried very hard, but to no avail. [insert sad face] After eating Amy's pie, Roger kept reporting that she does, in fact, make the best pie crust EVER. I had asked her for her secret before and she'd told me, but I'd never really taken time to try it. And, honestly, I figured it probably wouldn't work as well for me. I had tried so many recipes and methods.

When we went to pick apples last week, our friend also allowed us to pick blackberries from the edge of her field. The kids were determined to pick enough to make a pie.

So, when I got home, I called Amy and asked for her super great pie crust recipe. She gave it to me... and she gave me permission to share it with all of you!

Let me just say, here and now, that this recipe makes the most tender, flaky declicious pie crust I have ever tasted. In fact, when I served it to my kids and asked them if they liked the crust, they actually said that the crust tasted better than the blackberry part of the pie! AND they ate all the crust, where normally they just eat the pie filling and leave the crust - even in restaurants.


Amy's World Famous Pie Crust

With two knives or a pastry cutter or a fork or something,
1 C Room Temperature Shortening
2 C Flour
1 t salt

With a fork, stir in:
6 T HOT water

The dough will be very sticky.
Refrigerate or freeze the dough until it is firm enough to handle and roll out.

Really, it's THAT GOOD.

My Quick and Easy Applesaucing Method:

Quarter and core a giant pot of apples.
Add several cups of water.
Simmer until very soft.
Run apples through the food processor.
Can in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

I've done 28 quarts so far... I still have lots of apples to go...

I've also been making home made pizza a lot since I found this crust recipe on someone's blog...
ack! I can't remember where I found it in order to give credit.

Pizza Crust

2 1/2 C Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1 t salt
1 T oil
1 C Water

Roll to fit a large cookie sheet or pizza pan. Top, bake.

I found that baking the crust at 425* for about 7 minutes before adding the toppings and baking for another 15 minutes works well.

I've been using a pizza cheese blend, which I can get for a great price at Cash and Carry and Ragu spaghetti sauce from a giant container I buy at Walmart.

Most satisfying: I can make this pizza and serve it in less time than it takes to order and pick one up from Papa Murphy's and for a fraction of the cost... and it tastes great!

Today, I also used this amazing multi-purpose roll dough from Wintercreek to make Monkey Bread for Roger's object lesson at Awana tonight. This dough has never failed me and I've used it MANY ways! You must try it. It's easy and fool proof and yummy. What more could you ask for?? Tami is one of my oldest friends... I mean longest-lasting, not OLD... and her blog is well worth perusing for great ideas and fun stories.

I'm off to spend more time in the kitchen. Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Morning!

We're back from our crazy whirlwind road trip (something like 30 hours in the car over six days.) It feels great to be home, but ACK! the mess and the laundry and the clutter and the exhaustion! Wow!

This week, we kick off the Boy Scout popcorn sale - an activity of epic proportions for Noah, swim team for Noah and Anna, flag football for Daniel, and Awana for all of us - I'm the Cubbies director, Ack!

Thankfully, it all starts tomorrow, so today is a glorious reprieve between the crazy road trip and the crazy home life. I'll be unpacking and laundering and organizing and cooking and cleaning and preparing for Cubbies and resisting the urge to nap.

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." - including me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Just when I thought I might have a sane day...

Roger called to tell me that one of his employee's house burned down and they lost everything. He asked if I could pull together some hand-me-downs for their four year old girl.
Of course, I didn't hesitate to jump in and start sorting things out for her.

The problem is that on my "list of things to do" it says: Sort Clothes.

This is because clothing has been multiplying like bunnies in every corner of our closets, and attic, and storage room. I've been needing to pull it all out and go through it and organize it into something useful and get rid of what we don't need to keep. Thankfully, there's less to go through and organize now. Unfortunately, finding everything and going through it took a few hours. Of course, being a wee bit swamped is a very small thing in comparison to losing your home and all you own.

We have so much to be thankful for!

I need to be packing for a road trip. There won't be much blogging here for a few days... those great pictures will have to wait!

Except for this one. I took it self-portrait-style at the beach on Saturday. I'm so happy with how it turned out! I didn't even cut our heads or ears or chins off!

See you next week!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Aquarium


I got a snazzy new camera cable set-up.

I realize I've been a slothful blogger this summer, but I'm hoping to do some catching up and then to blog more regularly.

This weekend we decided to run up to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. We have a season pass, since it only costs a few dollars more than getting into the aquarium once for our family. So, we try to go at least twice a year.

It was great fun! The weather was perfect and they've added a few new things since we were there last.

One new feature was a small children's play area. It consisted of several animal statues for the kids to climb on. What a hit! They loved it!

Here's Anna(7) under a turtle.

And Andrew (newly 4) on top of the same turtle.

And, of course, Daniel(8) jumping off of the turtle.

The seals and sea lions were entertaining as always.

Noah(11) enjoyed the sea otters. (I almost got that perfect boy and otter shot...)

Mary(5) is an animal lover and had a great time all around.
Andrew and Mary enjoyed seeing the otters swim under water.

And there were these strange creatures in the "Odd Waters" exhibit...

I managed to get away from the aquarium with no pictures of Micah(17 mos) since he spent the afternoon in Roger's backpack. But he did shoot me a cheesy grin this afternoon while he was drawing. What a ham!
Pictures of California, Family Camp, the County Fair, and a trip to the beach coming soon... I hope...