Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas Picture Rejects

The pictures themselves, not the kids...

As you know, I'm trying to get all my Christmas duties done before December, so I can sip hot chocolate and nibble on Christmas cookies with my kids when the season arrives, and of course this includes the Christmas card picture. I have a feeling it will be just the kids this year in the shot instead of all 5 of us~you have no idea how difficult it is to get 3 little people and 2 big people smiling and looking in the same direction. So, anyway, last night we set up our homemade portrait studio and snapped a few. Actually it was 99 total~I wasn't keeping track as I was taking them~ but as always, only a few are usable. I won't show you the best ones, I'll save that for when you all receive your Christmas cards, but I thought I'd post the really bad ones!

Vision Forum Contest, Take 2

Vision Forum saved my life. That's not an overstatement. Doug Phillips changed my life and my family's life 6 or 7 years ago (via father/son retreat) and they've been an encouragement to me ever since. My family's path was changed forever. I'm not sure I would have the amazing family that I have now if God hadn't used them at precisely the right time. I am incredibly thankful for their ministry. Vision Forum founder, Doug Phillips is absolutely on fire with his vision and enthusiasm for the family, the culture, the church and the government.

We recently received the new catalog filled with wonderful resources and I've been eagerly earmarking pages. I found this new contest where you can win $250 worth of VF resources this morning so here is my new wishlist~
something for the kids and me (B.C. ~ 20 Lectures on the Ancient World- $125)
and something for Tim (Entrepreneurial Bootcamp Cds- $125).

May God bless all of you readers by Vision Forum as much as He has blessed me through them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Playing Hostess

I really can't tell you how excited I am about this upcoming PC party (and I'm not just plugging it for my own benefit). I've invited over 40 ladies (not counting daughters) and it seems like most can come. My house isn't exactly close in proximity to most of the ladies I invited, but I think we'll have wonderful fellowship and it's giving me the chance to play hostess for a real ladies party. It's a treat to not have to plan menu items like chicken nuggets and juice~ and that little bit of Martha is coming out in me. I've already planned most of the menu and the decor~ even down to the soap in the powder room and the kitchen towels. Last night at one of my favorite stores, I found these sweet appetizer plates clearanced at 80% off and so of course I had to bring all of them home so our guests will have something nice to eat from. (And although I bought 16 and had 8 smallish plates already, I still won't have enough if 40 people show up. I may have to bring out the styrofoam, which I really didn't want to do, if many children come.)

As for the picture above of my new treasures, I think I'm being influenced by (and attempting to imitate) Smitten Kitchen ~ a fabulous little blog I stumbled onto that has the most beautiful photography of everyday kitchen life. My pictures are pathetic to begin with and for the last month or so I've been on Tim's laptop (because my PC pretty much has had a stroke for lack of available memory) and I don't have access to my photo-editing software. Excuses, excuses.

A Self-Portrait, by Dabney

(This is also very similar to what she draws when she declares that she will draw a portrait of David, Joshua, Mommy or Daddy.)

To the Great Pumpkin Love, Dabney

My kids love Charlie Brown. While I put dinner together tonight, I let them watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". After it was done, Dabney rushed to the table with her crayons and a little note card set that I let her have. She came over to me later and handed me what you see above, in a note card. "I have to give this meshage to the punkin patch so I could get costumes!" Yes, that's right. It's not for the Great Pumpkin so she could get candy, it's for the pumpkin patch so she could get costumes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Banana Pancakes

or waffles.

"Can't you see that it's just snowin'~ there's no need to go outside"

Speaking of Jack Johnson, in the last two weeks, I've been to 3 stores. In each store I have heard a Jack Johnson song. Banana Pancakes was playing at HomeGoods! What's the deal with that? I thought he was just a Hawaii thing, but it seems like he's getting popular. I'm happy for him.

Happy Joshua

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pigs in a Blanket

Dabney's new phrase has been "What are we making today, Mama?". I love this. I love to be in the kitchen and I love to be creative, so the question always inspires me. However, tonight we were in a hurry and I decided to do a quick dinner~ pigs in a blanket~ you know, hot dogs wrapped in a crescent roll. Dab came down from her nap and asked her new question and I said "Pigs in a blanket, but they're really hot dogs." She began to giggle and watch me roll up the "pigs".

Dabney: "They're really hot dogs, David. Are they warm now, Mama?"

Me: "Are what warm, Honey?"

Dabney: "The pigs with their blankets"

Me: "Um, I guess, but they'll be a lot warmer when we bake them in the oven"

Dabney: "Ohh! The pigs are getting done now and they're almost ready. They're really warm!"

Later at the table...

"Mmmmm. The pigs are really good, but they're not really pigs because they don't oink."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Today has been a chilly day. The kids and I stayed in our pajamas a little later than usual this morning and I had to start another half pot of coffee after our first cup was gone. It's a comfort food day if there ever was one. We had soup and banana muffins for lunch and the wheat speckled dough for the barbeque chicken calzones for dinner tonight is rising on the stove. Our young maple tree is already losing it's tiny red leaves in the backyard. I have no desire to bundle up to face the blustery wind outside to even get the mail down the street~ usually one of my favorite parts of the day. The older kids are napping quietly snug in their beds upstairs and Josh is finding his voice in his bouncy seat.

You may think I'm crazy, but I'm counting the days until Christmas~70 to be exact. You see, I'm slightly homebound these days. It takes quite a while to get out the door when you have to change 2 diapers and see that the clothes the kids are wearing are clean and make sure you remember the sippy cups and then buckle 3 kids in the car and then you yourself want to look presentable... I do go out with the children, but I do love researching things online first so I can maximize the time and money spent outside our home. So, I suppose I am beginning early but planning to get the best prices never hurt anyone. And as I mentioned before, the kids are mostly getting books for Christmas this year so I've been scouring Amazon and and ebay for great deals. (I've actually been finding the best deals on When you buy more than one book from one merchant you get a very nice shipping discount.)

I love the whole season~from the first yellow aspen leaf falling in the yard to Autumn's culmination, putting up the tree after Thanksgiving. Autumn makes me want to bake like a mad woman~ spice cakes, gingersnaps, baked apples, strudel, pies, muffins with brown sugar streusel.

I've also been planning out my Pampered Chef Party for November 9th. I'm really looking forward to getting lots of friends together for fellowship. As far as the menu goes, I'll be making a sauteed pork loin and spiced cider and gingersnaps and a few other things I've been itching to get out of my system. I know we'll have a great time. Also, if you can't make it to my house, you can still order things with the link above.

I guess that's all for now. I's kind of a slow day around here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Name That Giedd Baby!

I really miss my camera. As I mentioned earlier, it's being fixed~ I'll get it back next week I think. In the meantime, I've been thinking, "Oooh I need to take a picture of that!" or "Oh, that's so cute~ where's my camera" And strangely, I've thought how nice it would be to take the kids' Christmas picture this week. Then I ran across one of my husband's baby picture, and I realized that if I can't take new pictures, I can scan old ones! (Btw, baby pictures of me exist, but they aren't on the continent right now, and actually, I was never a Giedd baby.)

Problem-Solving Minestrone

I am always looking for healthy and inexpensive recipe ideas, and I use quite a lot. The ingredient search is extremely helpful when you have limited ingredients on hand. These days, I've been trying to stock my freezer again, after having cycled out most of the food put away for the summer. Anyway, I found this recipe for Minestrone and it really does solve a lot of my problems~ it's healthy (it has all the food groups included, if you grate the bowls of soup with Parmesan) and it's very economical (most of the ingredients are in your pantry , then add some fresh produce), and it's freezable! I'm really loving those new Twist and Lock containers ~ they're perfect for soup! This recipe makes a boat load and I doubled it. I think a large stockpot full of hearty soup is such a beautiful sight! Hope you enjoy it. Serve with a salad and nice crusty bread.

P.S. If you want to freeze the soup, do not add the pasta or spinach until you have thawed it and are reheating it.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 5 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can green beans
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
  • 3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup seashell pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Spray with olive oil and serve.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canned Applesauce

Alright. Nobody raised a fuss, so I suppose I'll post the tutorial. I know some of you (if not most) already know how to do this, so please bear with me.

A few posts ago, when I wrote about the apple farm, I failed to mention that I had been communicating with the orchard's owner and he told me that all the apples on the ground were free. Yes, free food. We loaded up the car with helpers (aka children) and headed south to Penrose at the first opportunity. We gathered about 90+ lbs of apples! Praise God! Now, these were definitely not perfect apples, but free apples in exchange for a bit of chopping and removing bruised spots and twig holes was definitely worth it.

First off, gather all your supplies and make sure they are exceptionally clean. For successful canning, you have to kill all bacteria, or the lids won't seal and your food will spoil. Canning supplies include glass jars made exclusively for canning (like Ball or Mason jars), canning rings, new canning lids, a jar funnel, a bubble wand, a jar lifter, and a canning magnet. Because we're making applesauce, I'm also using a heavy duty strainer (shown above, made by Victorio). Also you need a very large canning kettle in which to process the jars. Please notice all the supplies are on a cutting board covered with a towel.

You also need apples.

First, wash the apples. This is a lot easier when the apples are from an orchard and not from the grocer and you don't have to deal with waxy apples.

Do not peel or core the apples, just remove the stems and quarter them. Place them in a large stock pot and cook until soft~ with enough water to make them not stick.

At this time, you want to fill the canning kettle with water and bring to a boil. My kettle holds 5 gallons and it takes quite a while to bring all that water to a boil.

I had an observer (optional)

When the apples are soft, run them through the strainer. Make sure you have a vessel to catch the pureed apples (I used 9x13 pan) and a vessel to catch the peels and pips. I think a loaf pan works wonderfully.

Return the pureed apples back to the stockpot and and add sugar and spices if desired. I think the rule of thumb is 1/4C.. sugar for each pound of apples you have, but that's completely up to you.
I didn't add any sugar or spices to this batch. (When we eat applesauce here, I top the kids' bowls with cinnamon sugar.)

Hopefully by now you kettle water is boiling, and if it is, boil your exceptionally clean empty jars and rings for 10 minutes to sterilize. When the water cools a bit, place the new lids in the hot water to sterilize. You don't want to get the lids boiling or too hot so that the sealing compound melts or doesn't seal later on. Take the rings and lids out of the water with the canning magnet.

Cook the applesauce until the color is to your liking .

Place the hot jars on your towel covered cutting board and fill the jars with the hot applesauce using the jar funnel. Do Not Overfill! Be sure that you do not fill the jars above the lowest thread or bad things will happen and the jar will not seal.

Remove the air bubbles from the jar with the bubble wand.

Top the jars with the lid and a canning ring. Tighten the rings but not so much that you can't open it easily later. Place the jars back in to the kettle and bring to a boil.

Process the jars for 20 minutes at a rolling boil.
Remove back to the towel covered cutting board and let cool. As they cool, you will hear little "pops" from the jars as they create a vacuum seal. You can know the jars are sealed when you press down on the lids and they do not pop back up.

Label with the contents and date. Store in your basement or pantry and use at your convenience.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A few random shots

On Friday my camera's flash stopped working, so yesterday I took it in to the shop to be fixed. I'm thankful we got the 4 year warranty, but of course, now that it's gone for a week or two, I'm really missing it. So I scanned my files for some picture that haven't been posted yet. Enjoy!

Also, I thinking about posting an applesauce/canning tutorial~ let me know if you think I should go ahead.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin hunting

Looks like a good one!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sweetie Pie

Clean toes, wrinkly toes

Storytime/ Sleepytime

I love this picture. Two or three times this week, David has fallen asleep towards the end of storytime. He runs and plays so hard during the day, he just zonks when he's still for a second. (In case you are wondering, his face was still dirty from lunch which is just before storytime.)
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