31 August 2013

Childhood Rite of Passage

Roasting marshmallows over a fire is a childhood rite of passage.
Check for the girls.

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30 August 2013

Cicada Boom

They sing frequently (and very loudly, especially at night) and the shells of their juvenile state are everywhere.
Of course, if cicada wearing becomes a trend, we started it.
Although, that may be too much for the fashion world just yet, even if it is au naturale.

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28 August 2013

Indiana State Fair

A new friend of ours gave us tickets to the Indiana State Fair, so we made a family evening of it.  While walking around, it was if the heavens parted and a brilliant beam of light shone down on an old shack.
Jack immediately made a beeline for the building selling pure maple syrup.  In another stroke of luck, it was during the free taste hours.
Can you see how happy Jack is?
Jack slurped up his syrup, talked with the workers and bought a few maple taps.  I think he can hardly wait until February to use them on our maple trees.
We learned other valuable lessons at the fair as well.  Like that the girls are probably a few years away from wanting to go on some of the thrill rides.
Although if Claire had a chance, she'd probably go.  Those are her little hands trying to pull herself up to look over the side of the Ferris wheel.
The girls learned that oxen can get pretty big.
Claire was reminded that corn dogs are amazing (even if they're $1 an inch).
Kate found out that she too has a tongue.
And Evelyn discovered that no matter how hard she tried, it is impossible to milk a wooden cow.

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27 August 2013

Sweet 'n' Sassy BBQ Sauce

Out of barbecue sauce when you're just about to throw chicken on the grill?  Never fear!  This is a simple, sweet recipe for barbecue sauce that is perfect for brushing over meat, marinating or as a dip.

Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup dijionaise mustard
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.
(Easy enough, huh?)
Pigs in blankets anyone?
Enjoy!

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25 August 2013

Those Ears!

The new donkey--the coffee colored filly named Annabelle and her mother Sophia, who's sticking around until she's weaned.
Our neighbors recently acquired a new donkey.
Those ears!
How could you not love them?
The ears and the donkey?

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24 August 2013

White Chocolate and Cocoa Rice Krispies

Here's a delicious alternative to plain old rice krispies, thanks to my baby sister.  Or, if you'd rather blame her for the temptation, that's okay too.
(I say, "Thank you Jennifer!").
A fun way to have children help in the kitchen.
Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup white chocolate chips, frozen (about 30 minutes in the freezer will do it--just so they don't melt when mixed with the warm marshmallows)
1 package regular marshmallows/4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups rice krispies cereal

In the microwave or saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the cocoa until combined.  In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the marshmallows, stirring at 30 second intervals until smooth.  Pour in the cocoa and butter and mix thoroughly.  Combine with the cereal and stir to coat.  Fold in the white chocolate chips and press firmly into a 13x9 greased pan.  Cool before cutting.
Our never-ending pan of white chocolate and cocoa rice krispies.  Yummy!
Enjoy!

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23 August 2013

Nightie Nightgown Tutorial

I wanted to do something special for the arrival of my nieces a few weeks ago and stumbled across a project making nightgowns out of vintage pillowcases.  Of course, I don't have a pile of vintage pillowcases lying around (does anybody???) so I modified the pattern for new material and made the Nightie Nightgown.  They turned out so cute and weren't terribly difficult to master--they're a lot like the summer blouse I made last year for Claire.  Use a lightweight fabric and they're cool enough for those hot summer nights while being comfortable enough to wear all day (believe me they've tried).
What You'll Need:

1 yard (+/-) fabric (depending on size of child)
Pinking shears or serger
Thread, scissors, tape measure, bias tape (optional), etc.
Bodice pattern found here (scroll down to the bottom)--the pattern size is 4T but it can be adjusted to be larger or smaller
Most of the seams are "finished" using pinking shears but a rolled seam or serger could be substituted instead.  Or just skip it altogether and use bias tape instead of rolled hems and pinking shears!
1.  Measure child and adjust bodice pattern as needed (the bodice pattern provided fit my four year old).

2.  Cut bodice pattern according to instructions.

3.  Measure child from high waist to desired length of gown plus about four and a half inches for an exaggerated rolled hem.

4.  Cut the gown section--it's the entire width of the fabric by the desired length plus the hem allowance (it should be one piece).

5.  With right sides together, sew front bodice and two back bodice pieces together.  Cut raw edge with pinking shears.
6.  Using a rolled hem, press and sew along neckline.
7.  Using a rolled hem, press and finish outside edges of the sleeves.
8.  Baste along the inside edge of the sleeves and pull to gather to the correct length of the armhole.
9.  With right sides together, line up gathered sleeve pieces and curve along the length of the armhole.  Once secured, cut raw edges with pinking shears.
10.  With right sides together, sew up the sides of the bodice, under the finished sleeve.  Use pinking shears on raw edge to prevent fraying.
11.  With right sides together, sew halfway up back of the bodice.  Then press the seam open, pin down and sew to secure.  Use pinking shears on raw edges.
12.  Hem the bottom of the skirt piece by using an exaggerated roll hem (I used about four inches as the bottom hem allowance after the initial hem).
13.  Sew up the side of the skirt and use pinking shears on the raw edge.  Baste around top and gather to fit the circumference of the bodice.  With right sides together (drop the bodice inside the skirt), pin together and sew around the top.  Cut raw edges with pinking shears.
14.  Attach a button, hook or snap at the top of the bodice.
Wear and look adorable!
(Maybe I'll make one for myself...)
A BIG thanks to the adorable models, Kaylee, Lydia, Evelyn and Claire!  They're naturals!
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22 August 2013

Home Sweet Coleman

About a month ago, Jack thought it would be fun to torture me go camping with the family.  Though I will freely admit I was less than thrilled with the idea of sleeping outside in the cool yet humid weather with three potentially scared, crabby children, the girls were over-the-top enthusiastic about the idea.  Problem 1) No tent.  Solution 1)  Thank goodness for social media and friends who kindly offered droves of tents for us to borrow.  We were set (thank you Cotterells!).
So THAT'S where the chips went...
Problem 2) A late dinner.  We waited for Jack to get home Friday afternoon, packed up the car and left.  Solution 2) In order to keep anyone from getting too grumpy from a rumbling stomach, we handed out a few treats to hold us over on the way to the camp site.  I made the mistake of tossing the chips to the girls.  In 30 seconds, 3/4 of the chips were missing.  I should have known.
Problem 3) Only one measly booklet of matches.  Though I had two HUGE boxes of matches, they've mysteriously disappeared and Jack denies any knowledge of their whereabouts (I just know it has something to do with him barbecuing or smoking out the honey or ground bees).  Solution 3) Being an Eagle Scout might not sound that awesome any more, but Jack had the tent set up and a roaring fire started (with one match, he repeatedly and very proudly pointed out) before I got the girls and the food out of the car.  Home Sweet Coleman!
Problem 4) Waiting for the food to cook.  Solution 4) Let them eat junk food.  Hey, it was Friday night.
Problem 5) Sleeping in the same tent.  Solution 5) Though our camping trip was postponed due to much-needed rain (that didn't bother showing up anyway.  Boo!) and then family illnesses, we let the girls "practice" sleeping in the tent in the great room.  By the time it was dark, everyone zonked out without so much as a whimper.
Problem 6) No baby swings at the park.  Solution 6) Swing with Kate in the hiking backpack.  Bonus) Major arm workout.  The junk food calories were gone in a matter of minutes AND Kate had a blast.
Problem 7) Not enough swings for all of us.  Solution 7) Tire swing!  It was no push from Uncle Jordan, but the girls laughed and had fun.  And probably didn't need to wear helmets.  Just in case.
Problem 8) It eventually got dark and chilly.  Solution 8) Roasting marshmallows, of course!  The girls are really becoming pros toasting blobs of sugar to gooey perfection.  Then, when Evelyn needed a break, she discretely slapped her stick--using the spare marshmallow as adhesive--to my back.  Then, when I had the decency to use said stick to roast a tiny, half-already-eaten marshmallow and eat it myself, she said in all sincerity, "Mommy, why are you eating my marshmallow?  I've only had one!"  Bonus) I didn't get that many additional empty calories.
Problem 9) We were all sticky after devouring a bag of jumbo marshmallows.  Solution 9) Jam marshmallow in mouth.  Lick fingers.  In a real emergency, employ baby wipes.  Done.
The girls wading in the lake like old women with their skirts hiked up.  They still got soaked.
Problem 10) I forgot sweatshirts for Jack and I.  Solution 10) Jack (again, using his incredibly honed Eagle Scout skills) lit a fire (with one more match!) for breakfast.  We ate and headed down to the lake to keep from shivering by running around, basking in the sun and wading in the warm water.  Also, be a dork and wear socks with sandals.
There goes Jack, pondering again.
Camping had it's own set of problems for sure.  But the solutions were easy/delicious/fun/hilarious/enjoyable.

I think we'll be camping again soon.

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