Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall is Here!

Fall arrived here with a rainy day and PROMISE of cooler temperatures! WAHOO! That makes me a HAPPY girl!

This is what our dining room table looks like - all decked out for Fall.

To celebrate the first day of Fall, Isabel and I thought it would be fun to make caramel apples. So after her USUAL lunch of PB&J, we began.

Her first job was to dry the apples and remove the stems.

She carefully dipped in the hot caramel.

Into the fridge to let the caramel set.

Let it be said that parchment paper works MUCH better than buttered wax paper!

Isabel's bottom front tooth was very loose, she could almost push it out with her tongue. So while waiting for our apples to "set", I tried to pull it, but it was so stinkin' little that I couldn't get hold of it.  We decided she could just eat her apple on the side.

After an hour we sat down to eat our yummy treats. They were delicious. The tart crispness of the Honeycrisp apple with the buttery, sticky, sweetness of the caramel. Pure decadence! We were two happy girls!

I made a quick trip to my office when I heard a panicky "G.R.A.N.D.M.A.!!  I swallowed my tooth!!" Sure enough her bowl was empty. It must have gone down with the last bite of apple. She was a V.E.R.Y. good sport about it and I'll bet the Tooth Fairy will still make a stop at her house tonight!

The first day of Fall was a good day here.  Hope it was for you too!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Parsley and Caterpillars

This spring I planted curly and flat-leaf parsley in two of our deck pots. I had read they were good for attracting butterflies (remember this point!) and so that would bring some fun gardening. As summer progressed, so did the parsley. I loved cutting it for cooking and it grew back quickly.

Lo and behold, one day I saw these "green, yellow and black things", eating my parsley in front of my own eyes. Surely they were garden pests!! I plucked them off for several days until they disappeared. The parsley grew back. And then one day I was reading a column that I enjoy in the Wichita paper that talks about what is blooming and growing in the Wichita Botanical Gardens. Lo and behold! What was featured and photographed in the article was the Swallowtail Caterpillar - those "green, yellow, and black things" in my pots! Oh my! When I told the girls about it, all they said was "Ohhhh, Grannnndma!" I felt like a really big meanie!

Not to worry. The little critters reappeared. At first not more than what looked like a 1/2" piece of moving dirt. Then very quickly they changed colors and were the very same caterpillars!

In no time at all they devoured my bush of curly parsley (you can see only short little stalks remain!) and being the "Good Mother" than I am, I began breaking off some of the flat-leaf so that they could continue munching away.

Moira thought we should put two caterpillars in a large plastic cup, place some sticks and parsely in it, cover it with plastic wrap and give them some air holes, then watch for a chrysalis to appear. Great idea! So twice a day the two caterpillars got two branches of parsley - EACH. These little critters were getting big, now over two inches in length and were becoming quite the "poopers". Google said they'd get 3-4 inches before the next stage. By this time, I was getting tired of the smell of the poop in my kitchen so I set them outside on the deck.

The next night we had rain. They were OK. I moved them to what I thought was a safer place but the wind blew the cup over and when I checked, one had crawled out. No problem, we thought now there would be more room for one chrysalis. Well, when I checked again, the other had crawled out. Too bad. I was really getting into seeing what they would eventually look like. Bummer!

Just before I went back into the house, I turned and this is what graced me!

The largest, most beautiful Monarch butterfly I've ever seen. So now I hope the Swallowtail caterpillars will reappear as butterflies. After all, the parsley is growing again so lunch will be ready!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grandparents Day

Last Friday was Grandparents Day at Maeve's pre-school. We went for "muffins and tea" (milk for her).

When we entered and introduced ourselves the  rather "round" lady at the door said, "Oh I love Maeve! She loves to eat!" This very petite little girl, who still wears size 18-24 months clothes! - is a GOOD eater!

We did a craft, presumably a couple of photo frames because they took a photo of the three of us. Papa layed down a strip of glue and Maeve placed the beads and colored macaroni, all of her choice on the frames. (These short little tables and chairs were a challenge!) :0

We went outside to play. Her favorite place to play is the sandbox. How can she even sit like this??? I know I NEVER could!

We were there about an hour and then had to leave to get home for Isabel's return from school. It was a fun little visit!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

California Visitors!

Jeremy and Renee blessed us with a short 'n sweet visit over Labor Day weekend. It was their last trip before their baby girl is born!

We simply enjoyed each other's company for four days! They wanted to hear Brett preach, so we went to Hope for church and then did Audrey's birthday dinner.

Brett, Esther and girls gave them a very full, very sweet bag of little girl clothes. The girls were so excited as Renee took each one from the bag!

Brett L.O.V.E.S. it when his brothers come to town! He took Jeremy & Renee to breakfast before they caught their flight back to LA. What "hot spot" breakfast place could that be??? Well, Charlie's truck stop, of course! Don't we know how to live!! Actually Rich took Jeff and Cole there earlier this summer and they loved it. Jeff even got a haircut there!

Brett said this photo was of a "belly contest" and Renee LOST!

We're so blessed to have our kids make these visits! One of my agonies in leaving California was that I was afraid I wouldn't get to know and have a relationship with whomever God chose to be Jeremy's wife. I can truthfully say that I've been so blessed. Renee is so open and friendly - and so loving to Rich and me - it feels like we've known her for years.

Thanks kids for making OUR weekend so special!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Birthday Surprise!

Audrey asked for a yellow birthday cake. I told her it would be a surprise.
So... I began with these.
They stacked up like this....
A mighty big blow!

It's a rainbow!
A very satisfied 8 year old!

So how do you make a rainbow cake?? It's easy, but does take a fair amount of time. But SO worth it!


2 white cake mixes - prepared according to package directions.
Wilton icing colors in purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. V.E.R.Y. important to use these, NOT your common food coloring. Can get the Wilton colors at Wal-Mart or anywhere cake decorating supplies are sold.

Make one cake mix at a time. Measure out 1.5 cups of cake batter into an individual bowl. You will have enough batter for three individual bowls. Start with 1/2 teaspoon of one color (original recipe said 1 teaspoon of color, so go as bold as you like) and mix in one batter bowl until well blended and color is vibrant, follow with remaining bowls. Pour cake batter into prepared 9" cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees. Watch carefully as it doesn't take as long to bake, anywhere from 12-20 minutes, depending upon oven. Cool in pans 10 minutes and then turn out on wire cooling rack. Prepare second cake mix and follow same directions, ending with six layers, each a color of the rainbow. Trim the crown of cake layers, as needed, to make a level cake. This is REALLY important so it stands tall and STRAIGHT!  Frost with your favorite icing.  I used my basic powdered sugar/butter frosting with some cream cheese added to cut the sweetness.  I also poked thin wooden skewers through all layers to provide support. This is a tall cake!

It was a very fun birthday surprise! Moira wants one for her birthday - next June!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

This 'n That

Whew! I feel like I've been on a merry-go-round! Isabel started kindergarten and for the first six weeks she goes half-day only. So the bus drops her off at our house everyday, except Monday, around 11:30! So if I want to get much done before she arrives, I really have to hustle! Audrey and Moira come here about 4pm to wait for their Daddy, unless he surprises all of us by coming home early.

She's such a sweetheart! We've had a good time playing games, baking, grocery shopping, she even helps me around the house, like taking laundry in/out of washer/dryer.

The first day, in one breath she said - "Hi Grandma, I'm hungry!" Her favorite lunch - PBJ - every day, except for the couple where we've had pretzels and nutella! An apple makes it more nutritious. Oh yes, Papa took us to Taco Bell one day - her choice! My favorite - NOT - but the burrito supreme tasted pretty good. I was hungry!

We celebrated Brett's birthday.

Moira wanted to make the watermelon "hedgehog" we saw pictured in a magazine. So this was her project.

Pretty cute! It was a big hit with the family!

I'm trying to get a head-start on my Bible study, which begins in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to being with this great group of a dozen or so wonderful women.

I've been busy this summer working on Mom2Mom stuff. Working with the program planning team, doing the brochure, and other details. We had our registration kick-off for Mom2Mom a couple of weeks ago. We are using the poppy theme this year. Our program theme is "Family Fragrance: Filling Your Home with the A.R.O.M.A. of Love". AROMA is an acronym for Affection, Respect, Order, Merriment, Affirmation and our speakers will be what I call "Wonderful Women of Grace", women from our church. We're excited about our year and look forward to our first meeting in October.

It was so hot this summer that I didn't get much gardening done. When the temp finally dropped, I began working outside. I worked about three hours every morning, Wed-Fri, weeding, deadheading, feeding - hoping for a "fall flourish". Saturday we went to the Wichita Botanical Gardens where the Wichita Day Lily Club was having their annual day lily sale. We purchased six "clumps" in three different color combinations so Saturday I began preparing the ground on the side of the house and then Sunday afternoon finished planting. Hope they all bloom next spring/summer!

It felt so good to be outside. Gardening was such a part of my exercise routine when we were in California - all year long, but alas, not so here in Kansas. Guess it's the Iowa farm girl that's still in me as I enjoy it so much. I was pretty sore and didn't know just how sore until Rich and I went to a new massage spa opening in Wichita. Oh my!!! I like a firm touch and I got that but virtually every muscle group in my body from shoulders to feet had deep knots. I'm finally admitting what a stressful year it's been - add all that hard gardening work on top of it and my body was in pretty bad shape. Anyway I'm better and the yard looks lovely.

This is our dinner-plate size hibiscus blooming in front garden. It didn't bloom much during the heat spell, but has started to bloom again. Beautiful!

Now I'm getting ready for Jeremy and Renee's visit. It will be so good to have them here!

Until next time ...

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are his people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Amen and Amen!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Audrey!

Today is Audrey's 8th birthday! Happy birthday, Sweetie!

Audrey is in second grade. Her favorite color is yellow. Her favorite food is Grandma's mashed potatoes, with a VERY healthy portion of BUTTER. It's yellow, you know! She actually puts the butter on the potatoes and then before it melts she eats the whole portion of butter. Her favorite animal is the dolphin. She likes to play soccer. Her favorite board games are UNO and Monopoly, although it's hard for her to find anyone to play Monopoly because it always takes so long. She has a little webkinz "family" and she enjoys playing on the webkinz website.

One of my favorite things to do with her is to listen to her read. Such a delight! It's also very fun to play UNO with her. She's quite the little cut-throat player and LOVES giving me a "bad" card. That little scamp!

Have a fun birthday, Audrey! We love you!