Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear Aunt Rannah,

Dear Aunt Rannah,

The kids and Tim and I wanted to thank you so much for the kids' outfits. As you can see, they really love them. Dabney especially loves her Minnie Mouse outfit.

And I couldn't wait to show you how cute the boys are in their coordinating outfits. I'm sorry the pictures aren't better~ in these pictures, the boys are in the car on the way home from church.

We had such a great time with you all last month and I'm sorry this note is so late and not even in the form of a hand written letter. We love you all and pray for you often.

With so much love,
Tim, Mandie, Dabney, David and Joshua

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pear Butter Take 2

Ok, the pear butter is really wonderful on it's own, but I also wanted to tell you that I use it as an ingredient in my kitchen as well as on toast, etc..

This recipe originated from the back of a bag of something or other but I've tweaked it quite a bit over time and now I call them my White Chocolate Pear Treats.

1/2 C. butter
2c. white chocolate chips, divided
2 lg. eggs
1/2c. sugar
1 c. ap flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. pear butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and sugar a 9" square pan. Melt butter in your microwave for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 c. white chips but do not stir. Beat eggs until foamy in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and beat 5 minutes or until lemon colored. Stir in the chips/ butter mixture. Add flour, salt and vanilla. Mix at low speed until combined. Spread 2/3 of the batter into your pan. Bake 15-17 minutes, until golden around the edges. Spread your pear butter over the crust and add the remaining chips to the remaining batter. Drop spoonfulls of batter over pear butter. Bake 25-30 mintues more or until edges are browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Also last week, I also added the pear butter to our daily oatmeal. Usually we add water, cinnamon and brown sugar to our rolled oats and then pop it in the microwave for about 90 seconds, but we discovered that if you substitute the brown sugar with about 2 Tbsp of pear butter, stir it up and cook it, your kids will love their oatmeal just as much if not more, and you will be subtracting some sugar from their diet and adding more fruit. And it's delicious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pear Butter Tutorial

Lovely, lovely pears. They speak fall to me.

I am an East Coast girl, and I grew up eating something called apple butter on my toast. Apple butter is like jam but fruitier and less sugary. It's very much like pureed, cooked fruit. When I learned to can in high school with my mother, she made this amazing pear butter and I've been smitten with it ever since. This recipe is straight from the Ball canning book. Besides the pears (about 20) you will need:

Cute canning jars~ I like using many different shapes and sizes but you don't have to. They must be impeccably clean.

You also need canning rings and 1 time use canning lids (not pictured). Also necessary is a heavy duty straining machine (ours is from an Amish store) and a giant canning pot and general canning tools~ a wide mouth funnel, canning magnet, jar lifter, etc. You probably remember a lot of this from last year.

So, wash your pears, take the stickers off, quarter them, then cook them until very tender in your stock pot. Yes, I know the cores and stems are in there too. Trust me. You can add 1/4 c. water as you cook if you must to prevent the pears from sticking and burning.
Run all of your pears through your lovely strainer.
Return the silky smooth pears (sans stems and cores) back to your stock pot, and add 4 c. sugar, 1/2 tsp. fresh nutmeg (yes, fresh is definitely worth it~ I don't have any of the bottled stuff in the house actually) and if you wish, 1/4 c. fresh orange juice and 1 tsp. orange zest. I didn't add any of the orange this time. Cook it all until it's thick and you can mound it on a spoon.

As your pear butter cooks, sterilize your jars and lids for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Like my ladle, James? I happen to love it.

Ladle the hot pear butter into the sterilized jars using your canning funnel. Place the lids on top and secure with the canning rings. The jars go back into the canning pot and when the pot begins to boil again, set your timer for 15 if you are living at sea level. I, however, live quite a distance above sea level, so I must process my home canned goods for 25 minutes.

Set out your jars to cool on a cutting board lined with a kitchen towel to absorb any drips. This is the best part of canning: if you've done everything correctly, throughout the evening you will hear all of your jar lids spontaneously "pop" and this tells you that they are now vacuum sealed and ready for storage in your pantry for a long time to come. But, in my house, when the kids hear the words "pear butter", they line up with spoons~ with or without bread. See? I've already got one in line!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Playing Outside

My big girl finally has a big girl bike. Our sweet neighbor gave Dabney her little girl's outgrown Barbie bike~ with training wheels and a helmet, too! Dabney's had such a blast riding up and down the street, finally graduated from her trike. David, however is trying to keep up with her on his trike which suits him just fine.

This is a portrait of Ernie (from Sesame Street)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rub a Dub Dub... Three Stinkers in a Tub

So this is as close as you get to bathtub pictures on the internet. These kids are just so cute when you clean them!

This is my favorite. Daddy rinsed his hair and took him by surprise.

Then, after a round of Peek-A-Boo he was as good as new.


As you can see, my conquering hero has evicted the little fella from his strange pool, much to my relief. Actually, I'm not afraid of frogs (and this one is actually quite beautiful)~ I'm afraid of dead frogs. I'm very happy to report that he's alive and well and was deposited into the nice grass in our front yard. Phew. I'm quite relieved, but probably not as much as he is.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Notice anything?

(You may have to click on the picture to enlarge...)

First person to tell me what you see that shouldn't be in my sump basin wins... a cookie... or something like that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One of our favorite places...

to go this summer has been the park down he street from us. Our children just love this place. Tim and I love it too because it is peaceful (usually), beautiful and not too big nor too small.

And now that Josh is walking so well, he's all over the park these days~ unlike the beginning of summer.

David felt so great when he got a turn to push the kids on the little merry-go-round thing.

Dabney liked it too.

Riding is pretty great also.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So what s a skirty?

Ok, so I've mentioned the skirty thing. A skirty is an undergarment for young ladies who tend to forget that they need to be modest. You can learn more about them here from Rebekah, the mastermind of the skirty. Makes me wish I had thought of them myself.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thought I'd show you the border I decided to use

It's just a simple mitered border with the unbleached muslin and a print I used in the top, but I think it suits the quilt. All I have left to do is baste, quilt and bind!

Monday, September 08, 2008

For David

Before I was married I made quilts. Many many quilts. Some were wall hangings, some were bed coverings, some were kept for my family, some were gifts. I even got paid to make a few. It's funny now how few quilts I make. I always imagined I'd make a quilt for each of my children (at least one), and now I'm in the midst of it, although I thought I'd have finished more quilts by now.

We moved our big boy from a crib to a toddler bed last week (love those convertible cribs) and considering that winter is just around the corner here, we figured that he needs more than his little chenille blanket when we tuck him into bed. Excitedly, I went shopping in that tiny fabric store in my basement and emerged with the blue plaids and checks. I really like the result~ masculine, but not babyish is exactly what I was hoping to accomplish. However, in the spirit of a stubborn 2 year old boy, he claims that he already has a blanket and doesn't need a nice, warm, soft quilt and I should give it to Josh.

I made this pattern based on a beautiful vintage scrap quilt I saw at my uncle's house a few weeks ago. Maybe I will post a picture of the original some time. My quilt is only about 56"x65" right now~ which is a nice size for a lap quilt or a toddler bed (which was my original intention)~ but I'm seriously considering enlarging it to at least a twin. Maybe by the time I've quilted it, David will really love it.

If not, I'll cover him with it when he's sleeping.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Creative Friday

I think clear stamps are the best. I wish all my stamps were clear. I picked up some cool alphabet stamps a few weeks ago and now I want to stamp everything I think of.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Because Dabney needs a skirty

If you have not become aware of these marvelous things named skirties, please be enlightened here and you will see why every 4 1/2 year old little girl needs one (or two) desperately!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Please allow me to introduce to you...

Yours truly with my Grandma and my Great Grandma. I can't tell you how much I love this picture.

My Great Aunt Lucille with her favorite cousin, Grace.

Guess who?

My great grandparents Milton and Alma

Great Grandpa Milton
(But everyone called him "Shorty". Seriously.)

Great Grandma Alma with her sister, Adelaide.

Alma's Parents, my great great grandparents

Great Great Uncle Condary
(Right, Mom?)

My other Great Grandpa. I hear that hair of his was shockingly red.

My grandma~ isn't she gorgeous?

My Grandpa as a boy

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