Friday, October 31, 2008
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
5-6 potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into pieces
1 large onion, sliced
1 whole chicken (whatever size you want, I like to use at least 5 lbs)
lemon pepper seasoning
Place the veggies in the crockpot (you need a pretty large one; don't ask me specifics, I don't know!). Remove chicken from package and rinse; pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in the crockpot on top of vegetables breast-side up and liberally sprinkle with each of the seasonings. Don't be shy, this will end up seasoning the veggies also. Then turn the chicken over (breast-side down) and season this side just like the first. (I would guess I use at least 2 tsp of each seasoning on each side. But that is just a guess, I've never measured. Just sprinkle until you think it looks good!)
Pour in a tiny bit of water if you want, it's not necessary. Turn crockpot on to low for 8 hours, and walk away.
The result will be a mouthwatering, tender chicken, flavorful vegetables, and a delicious broth. Hey, if all of my kids love it, it must be a wonderful thing!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Also, on a completely random note, I thought I'd share one of my favorite photos of Grant and me, taken September 8, 2002, at the wedding of some friends. We had been married exactly 14 months, Grant had been home from Afghanistan just one month, and I was three days away from donating bone marrow for my brother.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Today my first daughter turns three. I can scarcely believe it. I posted her birth story recently, so I won't delve into all that. I'll just write a little about her now.
Marissa is very vivacious and quite the talker. Several of my friends have recently commented on how well she talks and how much older she sounds by her conversations. She's dramatic, affectionate, has an incredibly loud scream (especially when being pestered by a sibling), loves babies and dolls and all things girly, adores swirly dresses, hates jeans, likes to be sung to while going potty (and every time we're in a public restroom together and I have to go, she immediately bursts into song as soon as I'm on the toilet....thanks, Marissa.....I really don't need the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to pee), she has a contagious laugh, her daddy wrapped around her finger, doesn't like most vegetables but loves fruit, rarely goes to sleep before 10:00 pm, despite being put to bed at 8:00, has figured out that if she "helps" mommy bake, she'll get to lick the beaters, has a major sweet tooth, and insists that PINK is the best color ever.
Yep, she's a treasure of a daughter. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.
This was a few hours after she was born, actually Oct 29, since she was born around 11:00 pm.
On her first birthday, 10-28-06
Another shot of her around her first birthday...what a goofy face!
Second birthday, 10-28-07
Another impossibly cute picture around her 2nd birthday.
This was last night, as she and Annika put dollies to bed in the new cradle.
I couldn't resist posting this one of Annika from last night.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Her friends arrived soon after and the kids got quickly to work making edible necklaces with Fruit Loops and yarn. I think they ate more than they strung, but they all ended up with really cute necklaces....until they started nibbling on them, anyways!
We played a couple more games and had lunch. I had made a cheesy spaghetti casserole, salad, pink fluff, and grapes, and then there was the cake and ice-cream and tiny sugar cookies. I don't think anyone left hungry! Ha.
Blowing out the candles
Gotta get that last stubborn one!
And now to lick the frosting off the candles. Ummmm.
Opening gifts, with little friend Maddie beside her. Maddie is one week younger than Annika.
Annika enjoyed hiding under the table and sporadically attempting to pull the tablecloth off.
Lydia (20 months), Natalee (3), Marissa (almost 3), Corban (5), Evie (4.5), and Morgan (3.5) - with the blue balloon. Isn't it cute how all the girls came wearing pink? I loved it! There were three other one-year-olds also, Michael (15 months), Maddie (13 months), and Annika (13 months).
It was a lovely party and the girls were delightful. Marissa couldn't have been happier. We saved some of her gifts for her actual birthday, the 28th. So there will be more pictures forthcoming!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The finished product. I had the most difficult time with smoothing the frosting. I don't know if it was because I made it the day before and it had been refrigerated all night, or because I had the windows open and it was a little humid in the house, or what.....but it just did NOT want to smooth out for me. It kept getting lumpy and smearing and causing great anguish. Corban's birthday cake frosting worked out MUCH better, same recipe.
The sweets table....I just made the chocolate dipped cheesecake squares and the cake. It turned out very pretty, and everyone enjoyed both quite a lot, I guess.
Corban: "Hey Mom, when I grow up and have kids, will I get to wipe their bottoms?"
Me (laughing): "Oh yeah, buddy, you sure will!"
And he really meant it.
And now I've documented it to remind him in a few years. Hehehe.
Monday, October 20, 2008
He is such a blessing, our boy. He has such a good heart, he wants to do the right thing all the time and is disappointed with himself when he fails. He takes such good care of his sisters and loves helping Grant and I with whatever he can.
He's been looking forward to turning five for a long time. He wants more responsibility around the house and desperately wants to be able to tie his shoes. Oh, and he wants to start losing teeth. I've told him that will probably not happen until he's six, but he still has hope.
He loves to give compliments and is always sincere. When he saw the streamers and balloons Grant and I had put up for his party, he exclaimed, "That looks awesome! You guys did a great job!"
I don't know what we'd do without Corban. Praise to God for giving us such a wonderful son!
Just a few minutes old.
Two-years old, had a blue/gray elephant cake that he greatly enjoyed!
Three-years old, Thomas the Tank engine was the star of the show.
And this was last night, five years old. His monster truck cake suffered a little damage from one of the trucks sliding off....oh well.
Here's a shot of the cake before any damage.
Note: This was by FAR the easiest birthday cake I've made for one of our kids.
A rousing game of hot potato.
Corban made it to the final two with Rachel....but she won.
Corban got lots of wonderful presents at the party, but we saved the biggest for today. This castle (which I won off ebay) was a gift from both sets of grandparents and us. It's a Playmobil castle with lots of little people. He got a few knights last night to go along with it, which was wonderful. He had no idea the castle was coming!
Both girls seemed nearly as excited about the castle as Corban!
Marissa especially liked playing with the women people.
This set is going to provide countless hours of entertainment and creative play for all of our kids and friends too. It was really a special gift.....for a super special boy.
Friday, October 17, 2008
You might be surprised by my answer.
His name doesn't rhyme with Don or Osama.
I'm voting for Chuck Baldwin.
He's the candidate for the Constitution Party and is on the ballot in at least 35 states.
I hadn't even heard of him until a few weeks ago, when some of the conservative blogs that I read mentioned him. When I read up on his beliefs, I knew that he is someone I can place my vote for and not feel like I've violated my own morals and beliefs.
And lest you say that I'm just "throwing away" my vote, take a look at this article he wrote a few days ago.
When asked why they will not vote for a third party candidate, many people
respond by saying something like, "He cannot win." Or, "I don't want to
waste my vote." It is true: America has not elected a third party candidate
since 1860. Does that automatically mean, however, that every vote cast for
one of the two major party candidates is not a wasted vote? I don't think
In the first place, a wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does
not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for
someone you know will not lead the country in the way it should go. A wasted
vote is a vote for the "lesser of two evils." Or, in the case of John McCain
and Barack Obama, what we have is a choice between the "evil of two
Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same
thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. For years now,
Republicans and Democrats have been leading the country in the same basic
direction: toward bigger and bigger government; more and more socialism,
globalism, corporatism, and foreign interventionism; and the dismantling of
constitutional liberties. Yet, voters continue to think that they are voting for "change" when they vote for a Republican or Democrat. This is truly
Take a look at the recent $700 billion Wall Street bailout: both John
McCain and Barack Obama endorsed and lobbied for it. Both McCain and Obama will continue to bail out these international banksters on the backs of the American taxpayers. Both McCain and Obama support giving illegal aliens amnesty and a
path to citizenship. In the debate this past Tuesday night, both McCain and
Obama expressed support for sending U.S. forces around the world for
"peacekeeping" purposes. They also expressed support for sending combat
forces against foreign countries even if those countries do not pose a
threat to the United States. Neither Obama nor McCain will do anything to
stem the tide of a burgeoning police state or a mushrooming New World Order.
Both Obama and McCain support NAFTA and similar "free trade" deals. Neither
candidate will do anything to rid America of the Federal Reserve, or work to
eliminate the personal income tax, or disband the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS). Both Obama and McCain support the United Nations. So, pray tell, how
is a vote for either McCain or Obama not a wasted vote?
But, back to the "he cannot win" argument: to vote for John McCain is
to vote for a man who cannot win. Yes, I am saying it here and now: John
McCain cannot win this election. The handwriting is on the wall. The Fat
Lady is singing. It is all over. Finished. John McCain cannot win. With
only three weeks before the election, Barack Obama is pulling away. McCain has
already pulled his campaign out of Michigan. In other key battleground states,
McCain is slipping fast. He was ahead in Missouri; now it is a toss-up or
leaning to Obama. A couple of weeks ago, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida
were all leaning towards McCain, or at least toss-up states. Now, they are
all leaning to Obama. Even the longtime GOP bellwether state of Indiana is
moving toward Obama. In addition, new voter registrations are at an all-time
high, and few of them are registering as Republicans. In fact, the Republican Party now claims only around 25% of the electorate, and Independents are increasingly leaning toward Obama. Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is headed for an electoral landslide victory over John McCain. John McCain can no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton.
I ask, therefore, Are not conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain guilty of the same thing that they accuse people who vote for third party candidates of doing? Are they not voting for someone who cannot win? Indeed, they are. In fact, conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain are not only voting for a man who cannot win, they are voting for a man who does not share their own beliefs and principles. If this is not insanity, nothing is!
So, why not (for once in your life, perhaps) cast a
vote purely for principle! Vote for someone who is truly pro-life. Someone who
would quickly secure our nation's borders, and end the invasion of our country
by illegal aliens. Someone who would, on his first day in office, release Border
Patrol agents Ramos and Compean and fire U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Someone who would immediately, upon assuming office, begin leading the charge to dismantle the Federal Reserve, overturn the 16th Amendment, expunge the IRS, and return America to sound money principles. Someone who would get the US
out of the UN. Someone who would stop spending billions and trillions of
dollars for foreign aid. Someone who would prosecute the Wall Street bankers
who defrauded the American people out of billions of dollars. Someone who
would work to repeal NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and stop the NAFTA
superhighway. Someone who would say a resounding "No" to the New World Order. Someone who would stop using our brave men and women in uniform as global cops for the United Nations. Someone who would stop America's global adventurism and interventionism. Someone who would steadfastly support and defend the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Well, that's enough to convince me. That would be true "CHANGE", not all the nonsense that the Democrats and Republicans tout as being change. I want America the way it used to be, the way it was founded. And we're certainly not going to get that from either McCain or Obama.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The kids and I swung by Target after gymnastics today for a couple of things and I saw something like this in the dollar aisle. Reminded me of a couple of years ago at Christmas time when my sister, mom and I put together little goody bags for all the kids. We had sets just like this in the bags, and when Corban (age 3 at the time) opened his, his delight was authentic and exuberant.
He loudly exclaimed, "Oh Yay! Vitamins!"
He was just a little disappointed that they were not indeed vitamins. Or candy. Or even edible at all. But he did eventually enjoy them.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Last night Annika was practicing walking and decided that she had the most fun walking to Corban so she could "tackle" him. He commented that she was going to be just like Sabrina (his two-year old cousin). Marissa was a bit jealous that Corban was dominating Annika's attention, but there was nothing to be done about it. There's just nothing like a fun big brother!
Monday, October 13, 2008
This is one of our family's favorite quick breads. I got the original over at Tammy's Recipes and made a few modifications to make it healthier. This time, I used homemade pumpkin puree that I had in the freezer from last year and it turned out perfect....so I think it's safe to say that pumpkin freezes extremely well!
Recipe: (yields 2 loaves)
2 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup water (I used 1/2 cup because my pumpkin puree was pretty soupy)
2 cups pumpkin (or one 15 oz can)
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. nutmeg
2 t. baking soda
1 T. baking powder
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce, oil, and eggs. Stir in water and pumpkin and nuts, if using. (I just use a few nuts to sprinkle on top of one loaf).
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Add to creamed mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans, sprinkle nuts on top if desired. (I like walnuts)
Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack. Best to wait until cool before cutting, but this bread sure does taste good fresh out of the oven!
Freezes beautifully if well wrapped in foil.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
She's also establishing some independence in the bathroom; where she previously always wanted me in there with her, now she is demanding privacy. She'll call when she needs help, of course, but all attempts at assistance when she doesn't want it are quickly rejected.
Just a couple of weeks till her birthday...and she's growing up so fast.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I made these to share at our Community Day at church last Sunday. I avoid baking with coconut for our family because Grant doesn't like it but consider that a minor tragedy since I absolutely adore it, except on shrimp....blech. Mounds and Almond Joys are some of my favorite candy bars and I was excited to see a recipe for a similar tasting bar on Allrecipes. I've been waiting for a chance to make these for quite awhile. I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed....these are extremely tasty! And VERY easy.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (fat free is fine)
2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 T. milk
Preheat oven to 350. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. Press into a 13 x 9 inch pan and bake for 15 minutes. Now you can do one of two things. Either (1.) Sprinkle the coconut over the top and drizzle the sweetened condensed milk on top of that or (2) Mix the coconut and milk together and spread on top of graham crackers. I did number 1. I think next time I'll try option 2. Whatever you choose, get the coconut and milk on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Melt the chocolate chips and milk together and stir until smooth. Spread on top of warm coconut. Chill before cutting. Can be stored room temp or in fridge. Delish!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My family wasn't too keen on me donating it without them getting some, so I'll probably be making one sometime soon.
Now, methods of baking cheesecakes vary widely, and I try different things to prevent cracking, like water baths, different baking temps, etc. I have yet to find a foolproof method. This particular cake has turned out perfectly for me before, but this time had a gigantic crack. I am not going to recommend a certain way to avoid that, as obviously I haven't mastered it.
Oh, by the way, I got the original recipe from Allrecipes, but my version is a bit different.
2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
5 T. butter
14 oz package caramels
5 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, divided
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 T. flour
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 T. milk
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine cracker crumbs and butter and press into a 9" springform pan, going about an inch up the sides. (This is important, so that the caramel layer won't stick to your pan.) Bake for 10 minutes.
Melt the caramels with the milk on the stove over low heat until completely smooth.
Reserve about 1/3 cup of caramel, and pour the rest into the crust. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup pecans. Stick into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Melt the 3/4 cup chocolate chips and let cool a bit.
Combine the cream cheese and sugar and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, flour, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Do not overmix! Add the melted chocolate and stir.
Pour over caramel/pecan layer and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until center is barely set.
Let cool on a wire rack, then stick in the fridge overnight.
Before serving, melt the 1/2 cup chocolate chips with milk and stir until smooth. Spread over top of cheesecake. Drizzle with reserved caramel sauce and sprinkle with reserved pecans.
I have to say, this is probably my favorite cheesecake. I love the chocolate truffle one, and the white chocolate raspberry, and many others....but this is pretty unbeatable.
Last night he and I were having a little one-on-one time and the conversation turned to babies. We've had several friends give birth recently, and another is due in a few weeks, so babies are on his mind, and oh, not to mention that he's mildly obsessed with having a baby brother.
Corban: "When a baby comes out, does it hurt?"
End of conversation. Whew.