Thursday, June 24, 2010

One of the Joys

"Stolen kisses are always sweetest."
- Leigh Hunt

I read the following quote today and thought I'd share it...

"We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart, eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for only a day or a year. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to take life as it came and as we might organize and control it, and this without murmur, complaint, or unreasonable demands"
--Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, 106

Monday, June 21, 2010

Black Bart, Windhorse and Peach Italian Soda

Saturday Michael and I took a little road trip to Sutter Creek to visit with family. My aunt was playing with her band "Windhorse" at the Black Bart Days. Some other family had driven down to see her and meet us there.
The restaurant where she was playing had trivial pursuit cards at all the tables - oodles of fun! And Michael and I shared a delicious peach Italian soda.
Aunt Kathy with Connie playing one of their original folk songs. Below is her brother Brian, my uncle who hails from Redding, California where he just retired from his job as a police detective after many years.

The town staged lots of old-west style shoot outs during the day as well as some fun demonstrations. The best part? Getting to spend a few hours with Michael!

Homemade Strawberry Frosting

Homemade Strawberry Frosting

Yields: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes and one 2-layer cake

1/2 C strawberry puree
1 cup butter, slightly cold and still a little firm
1 brick of cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 C confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Beat Butter and cream cheese until creamed (do not overbeat)
2. Add sugar in 1/4 C at a time until incorporated.
3. Stir in strawberry puree and vanilla

It should be the consistency of ice cream.
Refrigerate until ready to use.


Strawberry Covered Chocolate Cake

Concert in the Park

Thursday night we went out to Concert in the Park, a free summer concert series featuring the Modesto Band of Stanislaus County affectionately called "Mo-Band." Our niece and nephew tagged along.

The weather was perrrrrfect and Michael got us a great spot on the lawn where we could see and hear all that was going on on stage.

Dilly Beans

Fresh From The Garden Dilly Beans
With a plethora of green beans growing in the garden I decided to venture out and try and to can some "Dilly Beans" or pickled beans. Using the same seasoning as for dill pickles, I ended up with 7 half-pints of beans.

My niece and nephew loved them, they polished off 3 jars in one day. They even took some to Concert in the Park and made some new friends by letting our neighboring concert-goers try them.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Canoe Trip

Since Thursday Michael has been on a three day canoe trip down the Stanislaus river with the Boy Scouts.
The first night they traveled more than 25 miles down the river, beginning at Knight's Ferry. They reached their first camp site at McHenry Recreation Area at 8:45pm. The leaders and boys had just enough energy to cook an amazing dinner (chicken and beef burritos) and head off to bed.
The second day they paddled another 20 or so miles. They saw a school of huge fish and had lots of fun along the way. That night they camped at Caswell State Park where the families met them for a pizza dinner. It was so nice to see Mike and hear how the trip was going.
The last leg of the canoe trip brought them all the way to "River's End" at the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers. Where they took some time to enjoy the water.

Michael couldn't stop talking about what a wonderful adventure this was and how great it was to have so many scouts participate. While he was gone I watched a lot of late night Nick-At-Night T.V. trying to fall asleep - I forgot how good The Cosby Show was! I am so glad to have him home and to hear about this fun trip.

Blueberry Syrup

Fresh, local blueberries were on sale this week.
It was the perfect opportunity to make some
homemade blueberry syrup!

Fresh or frozen blueberries can be used -
Raley's has 32 ounce bags of blueberries for $3.69
or an 18 oz basket of fresh berries for around the same price


7 cups blueberries (Fresh or Frozen)
2 TBS Lemon Juice
7 cups sugar


7 half pint jars with lids and rings
Fine Mesh Strainer
Water Bath Canner


1. Mix blueberries and lemon juice in enamel or other non-reactive pot.

2. Heat until boiling, smashing berries with a potato masher as you go.

3. Boil for 5 minutes.

4. Strain berries through fine mesh strainer, pressing out as much juice as you can.

5. Add juice and 7 cups sugar back into pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil one minute.

6. Fill sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

7. Wipe rim with a clean cloth. Place lid and tighten band.

8. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes (for 0-1000 ft. elevation)

We are excited to try the homemade syrup on pancakes and waffles! Maybe we will have breakfast for dinner on Sunday :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where "All the Women Are Strong, All the Men Are Good Looking, and All the Children Are Above Average"

A great little pick-me-up, "The News From Lake Wobegon" has been a weekly favorite of radio audiences for years.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Best roast chicken I've had in a while, easy to prepare and only one dish to wash! That Martha Stewart, she really knows her chicken :)


Serves 4.

* 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved
* 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 package cut-up whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
* 1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
* 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
* 6 sprigs fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes and half the butter in a roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken, vegetables, and lemon drizzled with pan juices.

A First Time For Everything

Last Saturday Michael woke up with extreme lower right abdominal pain and vomiting. After a few hours and lots of prayer he asked to go to the ER. Fearing that it might be his appendix we drove on over to the local hospital. The triage nurse saw him and got him right in. Despite his pain he had a good laugh when we couldn't figure out which way the hospital gown went. Neither one of us has ever been to the ER or been admitted to the hospital before. They hooked him up to an IV line to get some fluids and pain medication into him while they waited for the trace they had him drink (which he promptly returned) to work it's way through his body. The Dr. ordered a CT scan because after examining him they thought it was his appendix too. The pain medication they gave him via his IV was very effective, so effective that he was too relaxed to breath right. They put him on 3 liters of oxygen and switched meds.

An hour and a half later they wheeled him down the hall to get the scan done. We didn't have to wait long - the Dr. (who liked talking physics with Michael) came right down and told us that there was good news and bad news. The good news was his appendix was fine (I was so happy I think I clapped) but the bad news was he had a kidney stone and he still had to pass it. The M.D. said women who have had them say they are more painful than giving birth without an epidural. Yikes! Later, after we were home and he was resting comfortably we decided it was kind of funny - at least one of us will get to experience child birth :) Sunday, he "gave birth" to a 2 mm little guy. He named him "Rocky."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kool Aid Playdough

This playdough is fun to make, smells delicious and is safe to eat (not very tasty - but safe for your little ones). We made endless batches of every color last year in class. The kids loved it!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid (Any flavor/color)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup BOILING water
Mix dry ingredients together first, add boiling water and stir until combined (let dough cool for 5 minutes, until it can be handled) knead until smooth - the kids loved this part. Store in a plastic bag and refrigerate when not in use.