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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cookies, and memories of the first snowman

This weekend we had some hands-on kid-friendly baking. We made the all-time favorite snickerdoodles - who can't like a crunchy cookie covered with copious amounts of cinnamon and sugar. A former co-worker of mine made the most fantastic snickerdoodles ever, this is her recipe.2 cubes butter, soft
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
Mix margarine, sugar and eggs thoroughly. Mix dry ingredients and blend into creamed mixture. Shape into 1" balls. Roll in mix of 2 T sugar, 1 t cinnamon to coat. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet, flatten slightly. Bake 8-10 minutes in 400°F oven.

I had my doubts about the kids because snickerdoodles are very hands-on. You have to form the dough into balls, roll in cinnamon-sugar and *lightly* press once on the cookie sheet. But They did great. The cookies didn't make it from the cooling rack to the cookie jar.

I found pictures of the kids' (and Rick's) first snowman/mouse of the year. They had just read the book The Tale of Desperaux and watched the movie as a treat when the first snow fell this winter. Our snowman was a fantastic representation of the hero Desperaux, complete with mouse whiskers and ears.

The snow is melting here. We still have a pile in the front yard as tall as me (some of you don't consider that too much, but still) and it is melting slowly. In the back yard we can just see the handlebars and seat of Rick's bike. We know Rikard's is nearby, but it isn't poking out of the snow yet. Why can't snow be as beautiful melting away as the day it fell to the ground?

Today the sun was shining. I linger while walking across campus to the library, feeling the warm sun on my face and knowing that spring is on its way - but I also realize it will take it's own sweet time in getting here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Pronunciation [mis-uh-ley-nee] –noun, plural -nies.
1. a miscellaneous collection or group of various or somewhat unrelated items.

First, we went for a Sunday drive through the countryside in the fog. This tree loomed out of the murkiness alongside the road and I made Rick stop so I could get a good picture. It is just a little spooky, a little artsy, with loads of character.Second, we had a visit with Nana and baby Tabitha over the weekend. Tabitha is now 5 months old and all cheeks - don't you just want to poke those cheeks and see how deep they go? She looked at me all day, even let me hold her. She talked and cooed and giggled for Rick, but I'm not jealous, nope, not a bit.
Then, Tatum and I made a cake. This is the not-so-secret JELL-O cake. I just made this one up from watching others and adapted it to do what I wanted and what I found worked best for me.
The directions are simple. I made my first JELL-O cake as a 4-H project way, way back in the day. Make any boxed white cake mix (not the pudding inside kinds) according to the box directions. Allow it to COMPLETELY cool. Then, use a large box of JELL-O, flavor of your choice. We have used nearly every flavor/color available. (pssssst - our secret is in the preparation of the JELL-O.) Use 2 cups boiling water, stir until dissolved and add only 1 cup cold water. Place this in the refrigerator until it is cool throughout and just begins to thicken, about 10-15 minutes. Poke holes in your cake with a toothpick or skewer, don't use a fork as it just makes large holes in the cake and leaves a crumbly mess you can't frost. Slowly pour the tickened JELL-O over the top of the cake, allowing it to fill the holes, cover the entire cake. Refrigerate until the JELL-O has set, about 45 minutes. Frost with whipped topping for a little added sugary goodness.
A couple of items of note: if you pour the JELL-O on immediately after mixing, it is warm and fast flowing. It will barely saturate the holes, run down the sides to the bottom and you will have a JELL-O upside down cake. It is fun to make this cake without the kids around and use flavors/colors they haven't seen before, like blue and purple.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday baking

Warm sour cream coffee cake was the on the fresh menu this morning.This got a very high approval rating this morning from the kids. It has a really thick batter, but cooks up very moist.

Preheat oven to 350° F. For topping mix 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Cream together 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. butter. Add two eggs and 1/2 pint of sour cream and 1 tsp. vanilla, blend well. Sift together 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. soda. Blend wet and dry ingredients well. Pour half the batter into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Cover with half of topping. Add remaining batter, cover with remaining topping. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

This recipe came from the cookbook, A Beary Delightful Collection of Beary Old and Beary New Recipes. The collection was compiled by the good ladies of the Lind United Methodist Church in Lind, Wash.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some winter memories

The days are suddenly getting longer and the snow is melting - it is melting somewhere just not in our yard. We have a huge snow/ice berm in our front yard that is still higher than the top of my car and extends the entire length of the yard. It is frozen solid and will be with us a while.

But, we had some great times with that snow! Keeli had her first snowball fight this year. She would pick up tiny little bits of snow...and throw them at her unsuspecting dad. She would laugh and he would play along like the snowball knocked him over.The kids built a really nice snowman. Tatum was reading The Tale of Desperaux and the snowman was built to look like him, big ears, pointy nose, whiskers and of course a sword. Some neighborhood hoodlums knocked him over.

So, the following weekend the built another. Keeli and Rikard rolled a big ball of snow until it was too large for them to move any farther.Then, they rolled another. Tatum was in charge of smoothing the sides and making sure the middle one was smaller than the bottom one (Rikard was all about the bigger the better, must be a boy thing). Rick helped them get creative with the second snowman. He couldn't just be a plain old snowman, he needed some character.
So, this guy was a *dude.* He had spiked hair and whiskers. This wasn't your average, boring, everyday snowman.
He lasted a couple of weeks until the kids discovered the snow pile from the roof made a great short speed sledding course and the snowman was in the way. Oh, more snowy memories...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Maiden Voyage - and breakfast

Watch out world, she's mobile! It isn't a driver's license, but it is the next best thing when you are a kiddo. She got her own set of wheels this weekend, complete with training wheels and a helmet.She took her first trip up and down the sidewalk this afternoon. She had an escort beside and behind her, but still managed to take a spill. All was okay when she realized there was no blood and her legs weren't broken.

On the earlier side of today, I got up and made one of Rick's favorite treats, his mom's recipe for sticky buns.
These are super easy and really tasty. Simply use two loaves of frozen bread dough (or the equivalent of frozen dinner roll dough). Break it into bite-sized pieces and place in a greased pan (square, oblong, cake tube). Let dough rise 30-60 minutes (I usually skip this part). In a saucepan melt one stick of butter. Add one small package of Jello vanilla pudding*, one small package Jello butterscotch pudding*, one cup brown sugar, one tablespoon milk. Bake at 350-F for 35 minutes.

*use the pudding mix for cooked pudding, NOT instant." Yummy delicious" is how we describe it. It is very similar to monkey bread recipes I've encountered, but the butterscotch pudding gives it a distinctly different and unique flavor - tasty even to those who don't like butterscotch pudding.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Weekend in Review

Much like their father, these kids' idea of luxury far exceeds the ability of their pocketbooks to provide it! Here they are practicing sunbathing on a $72,000 pleasure boat.
The boat show had everything, EVERYTHING. It was a great place to let the kids explore and Rick to dream.

Some of us tried to sit in the captain's seat of every boat there, the speed boats, the runabouts, the fishing boats, the duck hunting boats, the party barges and the yachts. They were all fair game. We also tried out the tow ropes for skiing, several of the fancy tubes and thought we were way cool when we stepped into the wake boards.

Tatum had a good time talking with a park ranger at the Dworshak Dam information booth. She told them we "already knew all about that dam" because we go there all the time - well, at least once a year. Then she and Rikard told the story of being at the dam's visitor center once during a thunder and lightening storm.

Many of the boats were set on the floor, off their trailers. This made it easy for me and the kids to see everything. Others had step ladders or plywood box steps leading up into them. It was difficult to keep track of the kids at some points when there were several boats with different ladders, steps and boardwalk systems in a small area.

When we got to the yachts, the salespeople were dressed markedly
different than the guys trying to sell the fishing boats. The stairs leading up to the boats were carpeted and the landings were decorated. Rikard could not believe his eyes when he saw inside one boat and it looked just like the inside of Papa's motorhome. Then, when we got around the corner to the party barges, they were amazed that the boats would have a sink and a counter and SO MANY cupholders. Oh, my!

We went away with armloads of information, but weren't the cause of one of these. We came close, but not quite.
Rick has his eye on a Hewescraft (the Fisherman's Choice according to their marketing materials) or a Crestliner, which according to him offers the perfect balance between fun for the kids and fishing for him.

Rikard had to be hauled away to the barber shop. He decided late at night that his bangs were too close to his eyes and attempted a self-styling job that went all wrong. Silly boy. The only fix was to cut his hair really, really short.
Sunday morning I settled into the kitchen and patiently peeled and chopped and fried until I had the perfect pan of homefries. Mmmm, comfort food.