30 August 2018

Creatures Great and Small

I know summer sometimes gets a bad wrap because it's hot and humid and riddled with biting insects but there are a lot of things that I really enjoy about the season, like swimming, vacations, school breaks, and all sorts of creatures great and small.
This year, we came across p-l-e-n-t-y of praying mantises. I wasn't sure that many of them would make it after all the unseasonably cold weather we had but whenever we weeded in the garden or around the house, we kept finding them scrambling to get through the weeds.
Whatcha doin'?
Most were pretty petit but some of them were big enough that we could practically strap a saddle on them and ride them off into the sunset. Seriously, look at that girl! She was impressive and was put to good use in the garden, probably eating small mice and snakes that scurried past.
My favorite discovery at our house is that we have five-lined skink living at our house. The one we saw was a baby--it had the telltale blue tail and holy moly, they are SO CUTE! And fast. We tried to catch the one we saw but it was able to slip into the cracks of the deck before we even laid a finger on it. I'll rip our deck apart if I have to! Which someday, I will have to do, since our deck is getting old and squishy...
Every time we went hiking this summer, we came across some neat critters, from a couple of shy box turtles to some itty bitty toads that hopped across the trail. I would have totally missed it but Evelyn spotted that little crumb jump in the dirt and grabbed it before it could get away, so we could snap a picture and send it on its way.
And, as annoying as some caterpillars can be, raiding the garden and eating the landscaping and such, I have to admit that some of them are awfully cute. Like the tiny inch worm that Henry found.
Having a pond now, there are all sorts of animals that call that pool of water home. We have fish, snakes, snails, frogs, dragonfly larvae, and crawdads! I used to catch them every summer when my grandparents would take us to the Ozarks and now, my kids get to catch their own.

 This summer, we also ran into some really large ants...thank goodness they're not that big in real life.
Henry wrangling a giant ant.
I love autumn as much as the next person but sometimes, I miss all the critters and creepy crawlies that disappear when the cold arrives. I'm probably in the minority (the horses and cows definitely don't miss the biting flies) but I've definitely convinced my kids that bugs and reptiles and amphibians are interesting enough to stop and observe, no matter their size.

29 August 2018

Funfetti Butter Cookies

We had a spare box of Funfetti cake mix in our pantry and decided to shake these things up and try these. They're super yummy, rich, and are one of those cookies that gets better and better as it cools. They were a hit!

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1/4 cup sprinkles
1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, whip together the cream cheese and butter. Add egg and mix. Pour in box of cake mix and stir until combined. Add sprinkles and mixed. Roll dough into small, one-inch balls and coat in powdered sugar. Place on a greased or lined baking pan. Place in fridge for at least ten minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake about ten minutes, or until just set. Do not overbake. Cool a few minutes on the man and remove to a wire rack. They're extra yummy chilled in the fridge!
Enjoy!

28 August 2018

Sum Up Henry

Our handsome, sweet, clever boy is now THREE!
Henry came into our family after a difficult time and has been a blessing ever since, whether he's swinging quietly in the hammock, he's pondering life's deepest questions, or helping Jack with some redneck weeding. As with any of our children, it's incredibly difficult to sum up Henry. He's a mixture of me and Jack but is most decidedly his own person that's full of humor, ingenuity, and a healthy sense of fun. So, if I had to try and define Henry, this is what I'd say...
Batman never misses a Sunday evening call with the grandmas.
Henry is always the first to volunteer to help and often cries and screams if he gets passed over to unload the dishwasher or take out the trash.
Fixing dad's car.
He doesn't care what kind of helping he's doing. He could be stacking hay...
...or pulling clothes out of the dryer...
...or grinding wheat for bread...
Our little milkman.
...or cleaning up at church...
...or helping in the garden...
...he even wanted to make his own birthday cake! No matter the chore, job, task, or project, Henry wants to be in the thick of it and will work until he poops himself out.
Nothin' like a three-year-old making his own cake.
Literally.

We'll come inside from working and more than once, he's zonked out on the couch because he was too tired to wait for nap time.
Henry looooooves being outside. If water is involved, that makes it ten times more exciting.
He's super adventurous and is willing to try just about anything. For example, this scorpion coated in a berry sucker. He proudly declared he was going to eat it all and he gave it a good go but once he got to the scorpion, he was pretty sure he didn't like it and spit it out.

On the couch.

Because that's the logical place to dispose of unwanted food.
It tasted so good to start with...
 To say he has a sweet tooth is an understatement.
But, despite his love of sweets, he is very dedicated to his physical health. Whenever we go running, he asks to get out and jog, he lifts weights like a pro, and he's definitely more flexible than me.
Living in a sea of girls (even like, 98% of our animals are girls), Henry has heard his fair share of quips about how people feel sorry for him living with so much estrogen. I don't feel sorry for Henry in the least. He is very much aware he's a boy (a distinction he keeps reminding everyone about frequently, as of late), and he loves his sisters fiercely. As an added bonus, that kid is going to grow up with great insight into the female psyche, which can only come in handy.
Seriously, you should see how excited he gets when the girls get off the bus every day. We're talking ear-piercing shrieks of joy and running like mad to greet them. He doesn't know anything else but sisters!
He also is well-aware that Jack is the only other boy in the family and loves him dearly for that. He wants to grow up to be just like daddy and is sure Jack is his best friend. Behind me. Because as the expression goes, Henry is totally a momma's boy.
Henry wasn't sure he wanted to say goodbye to Jack for his business trip.
Henry is fierce.
Whatever you do, don't put your hand in the lion's mouth. His teeth are sharp!!!
Henry is hilarious.
He is fascinated by music in all it's forms and often can't help but sing or play along or dance to it.
He is such a willing sharer.

Usually.

He is only three.
He's got a vivid imagination.
And all his wonderful traits are what makes him a really, really good friend.
Henry is always up for an adventure.
Going on a Sunday afternoon berry hunt.
He has a thing for hiking, especially if he gets to help Jack find edible mushrooms, berries, or flowers. Oh, and he has to bring a flashlight with him, even if we're out under the noonday sun.
Henry is a summer warrior.
Nobody messes with Henry when he's busy swimming.
Any loud, dangerous machine and Henry is there like a moth to the flame. It beckons him and he can hardly wait until the day he's allowed to mow and chop down trees and run the miter saw.
Better than dinner and a show!
Thankfully, he takes safety seriously. He wears a helmet while riding his bike or atop Stoney, he has his own pair of safety goggles, and he always wants to be the one to buckle himself.
What are you saying about my driving, Henry?
He is a farm kid through and through.
Sweaty, barefoot, covered in berry juice, and petting the horses.
He's very interested in my writing career. Someday, maybe we'll pen a book together. With his imagionation, it would be epic!
So, really, that's only a fraction of who Henry is. He's simple yet it's hard to put him into words.
Claire told me he his Spiderman cake looked like a fuzzy pink animal. At least Henry liked it...
Henry had a fantastic day, seeing his friends at church, gorging himself on cake, talking to extended family, opening all kinds of exciting gifts (LIKE SOCKS!!! WAHOO!), letting his sisters dote on him, and telling everyone he came across that he's no longer a baby. He's three, people! We are so blessed to have this amazing boy in our family and are looking forward to the man he will become but until then, will cherish all the time we can get with Henry.
Happy birthday, Batman! Er, Henry!
Happy birthday to our handsome,
happy, hilarious, huggable Henry!

24 August 2018

Peach Cobbler Bread

There have been plenty of peaches around here, so we decided to make something new! This peach cobbler bread was a great side dish for dinner (and was finished off at the following morning's breakfast!) and was so moist, tart, and sweet, that we'll be making it again soon!

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (I did half white, half whole wheat)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 whole peaches, peeled and sliced or 3 cans peach chunks, well-drained
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture until well-combined. Gently stir in the peaches with a wooden spoon. Divide batter evenly between two well-greased loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool completely on wire racks. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk. Once bread is cool, remove from pans and drizzle with glaze. Slice and serve.
 Enjoy!
Thanks to Mostly Homemade Mom for the recipe inspiration!

And part of a 2018 goal accomplished!

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