Monday, October 26, 2015

Hodge Podge

Time for some new scenery whenever I get online. How about a hodge-podge of cute photos?
My beautiful baby girl. Hard to believe she's sixteen now.

The girls at Waterford's Girls' Volleyball basket bingo this summer.
Me getting some puppy love from Sproket!
Cassie and her sweetie, Eli, at homecoming this year.
Rowan and Rosie at her final vet visit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mental Health Monday

I just have a link to share today...but it's the Honorary Unsubscribe to a guy who seems rather important in the mental health field, especially when talking about suicide. A big thanks to all he did in his life.

(Photo lifted from Wikipedia.)

 Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe  - Suicidologist Norman Farberow

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rowan Goes To Prom

(Let's see if I can remember how to do's been so long.)

Yes, my eldest has headed off to prom tonight. For a date, she took her friend Bobbi along. And thanks to the mother of another friend, they all had a fun meal together, as a group, before heading off all together for the big night.

And of course, since it is a big night, there's much leading up to it. Like shopping for the dress. My mother worked her magic there somehow, talking Ro into letting her buy the dress. My sister found the perfect dress for Ro online at the Victorian Trading Company. We ordered it last Thursday. Thank you Rush Shipping. It arrived on Tuesday. The real fun? We shopped for the jewelry and hair accessories on Sunday and her Aunt Tweet took her shoe shopping Monday.

Here's the dress. It's actually a darker, brownish red. And even more beautiful in person.
So today was the day to get their hair all dolled up and, of course, it was pouring rain. So the goal of the afternoon was to protect the hairdo's. Thanks to Ro's huge umbrella, they did a pretty good job staying dry. Oh, and I had a great time talking to Bobbi's dad while waiting on the stylists to finish.
So, here are some more photos taken at the house.
Lacing Bobbi into her dress. That's Bob's torso hanging in the back. ;-)
Looking fabulous. (Cassie went with her aunt for the night, so don't worry about her being left out. They'll have a blast.)
Bobbi would NOT be serious, dang it!


And finally, here's one of most of the gang at Cody's house. They all headed off to prom together, piled into two cars, and when I last talked to Cody's mom, they were already having a blast together. This is a truly amazing group of kids. And I love ever one of them.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Making of the Pinata

As you know, especially if you read my last blog post, Monkey Girl recently had a birthday, which meant she also had a birthday party. And around this house, birthday parties also mean piñatas. But not one of those pre-fangled store bought piñatas. Oh no. The girls will settle for nothing less than a custom piñata from their father.

Usually the process starts out about a month before the big day, with the selection of a party theme and the desired piñata object chosen. Mr. Incredible then spends some time thinking over ideas of how to proceed. Since MG wanted to have a party centered around the Munchkin Card Game, by Steve Jackson Games, the actual Pinata card was chosen. (The Pinata card is great, because once you defeat it, everyone gets to draw a treasure!)

Our friends in Columbus came down to visit one weekend and brought the original Munchkin deck with them, so we could draw on it for inspiration. The Munchkin piñata looks a bit like a slug with itty-bitty wings, so Mr. I went for something a little rough and haphazard looking for the final product. But I digress...

After figuring out how he wants to do the construction, he gets started. Usually this involves balloons in some fashion, but not always. For MG's piñata, he decided to go a bit nuts with the balloons and filled a long plastic bag with them for the shape of the body. (Note, this was a BIG piñata.)

Did I mention it was a big piñata?
And then he starts on the layers and layers of paper mache. Mr. I. uses a flour and water mixture for the adhesive bit and the paper this time was old computer paper. Often, though, we get the end rolls of paper from the Athens Messenger to use. (And I really need to stop there and stock up for Drama Queen's upcoming pinata making.)
The next two are a couple of process shots. Did I mention that this guy was BIG?

The body and neck from the front...
And the side. Please note my lovely indoor plants there.
And here's the head. More balloons and I think a trash bag.
Mr. I. decided to leave the balloons intact in order to make the body sturdier. It actually took them about 4 1/2 minutes and several whacks to get the candy loose and on the ground. At one point it became a game of "how many balloons can we break in one hit", which was pretty amusing to watch.
My only complaint about the whole process involved the difficulty of finding any work surfaces in the kitchen for food prep and cooking. We kept having to shuffle Casper the Friendly Maggot from the freezer top to the dining table and the head from the counter top to my desk.
And finally our poor, hapless piñata awaiting his fate...
And there ya go! As I said, he deliberately made this one rough looking because that made it seem more Munckin-y. Drama Queen's will be another matter entirely. And it might even be bigger...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Monkey Girl!

So, Thursday, my baby turned 14. Yeah, not so much of a baby anymore. And I still wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.

However, since it's apparently my job to try and embarrass her now that she's a teenager, I thought I'd share the following wonderful photos with you.

(Cassie and Little Kitty, the best cat a girl could ever have)
This would from one afternoon after kindergarten. LK really was one of the best cats ever.

And this would be from late spring, I think. As you can see, she still needs the occasional nap!
Seriously, I am very proud of the caring, kind-hearted young woman my youngest daughter is growing into. And her hugs are still the bomb!

Happy birthday, Baby Girl. Love you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List - Zucchini Bread

Land-O-Lakes had a challenge to create a summer bucket list for the last few weeks of the season. It seemed like a great way to celebrate the coming end of the hot, humid weather to me! So, I scurried off to Pinterest and created a special board just for the challenge. I'll try to write up everything I manage to try, provided I don't get distracted by other shiny ideas.

Right now I want to share my zucchini bread recipe. Tomorrow my Tuesday afternoon gaming group at the Wizard's Guild/Universe of Super Heroes starts meeting again. Since I know how famished the girls usually are after school, I thought I'd take in something they can snack on. And really, this is the time of year for zucchini bread, even if I did cheat tonight and use the frozen stuff because it was already grated.

With the exception of my mom, everyone who's ever tried my bread loves it. It must be one of the few things I really get right. (And it's not that mom doesn't like it, she's just more partial to pumpkin bread, which was part of her Christmas present last year.) And it's really very easy to make. I mean, I use the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook! But I've learned a few things over the years that make mine really moist and tasty and I wanted to share them with you today.

First of all, if you don't have one of BH & G's cookbooks with the Zucchini Bread recipe in it, you can also find it online. Very nice for pinning to my Summer Bucket List board.

Melinda's Easy Zucchini Bread
3 cups flour (1 1/2 cup all-purpose and 1 1/2 cup wheat?)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten slightly
2 cups finely shredded zucchini and/or summer squash
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup totally mix-ins (raisins, cranberries, nuts, chocolate chips, etc...) (Optional.)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease two loaf pans. Set aside pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine everything from the eggs on down to the mix-ins. Stir well and set aside while you mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add contents of the smaller bowl to the larger one and stir well. Stir in the mix-ins as well.

Divide batter between the two loaf pans - it'll be about 2 1/4 cups each. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks for 15 -30 minutes before gently turning the pan over to let it release the loaf.

Secondly, this recipe works wonderfully with yellow summer squash as well. You can mix it with the zucchini or use it on it's own.

Thirdly, here's a gratuitous, badly lit pic of my two loaves. It's badly lit because, well, that's our kitchen in that area at night AND I'm using one of the girls' video camera for a camera camera. Sorry.

Fourthly, toss the walnuts. Seriously. Don't use 'em. There are so many other fun, tasty, and interesting things to add in their place. My family's personal favorite is chocolate chips, which was the add-in in the upper loaf above. My favorite is raisins or cranberries, and since I've been on a cranberry kick lately, that's what the bottom loaf contains. The only dried fruit that I haven't liked so far is dried dates. They just don't have enough flavor to either add anything to the taste or to stand out on their own. Oh, and I've been known to mix fruit and chocolate. We all win!

Fifthly, you can make it healthier by substituting half whole wheat flour and half of the sugar with a sugar baking substitute. I used a stevia blend in these loaves, although we were out of whole wheat flour. If I hadn't been feeling so lazy, I might have ground up some oats and tried an oat flour instead.

Also, I love to add some extra fiber to the mix. If you can find it, Beneful makes powdered, unflavored product that's perfect for adding to foods. For two loaves - a double batch - I use between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of the stuff. The bread sticks with you longer and slows down the sugar absorption, which is just the thing for diabetics like me.

Sixthly, have fun with the spices. The actual recipe calls for cinnamon, but I forgot that I used the last of it a week ago making zucchini bread. So I ground up some cardamon and used that instead. Since cardamom can have a strong flavor, I figured out the total of cinnamon and nutmeg needed and then halved it. One half was cardamon and the other was nutmeg. I've also used ground ginger to good effect.

Seventhly, don't hesitate to freeze loaves for later eating and gifting. We love pulling a loaf out of the freeze come January. I usually wrap them in cling-wrap and then place them in gallon bags. You can get about two loaves to a bag. If you're thinking of gifts, you might want to bake them in a small, disposable aluminum pan. You can leave it in the pan to freeze.

If you want to gift zucchini bread but don't want it to be frozen for that long, just chop/shred the zucchini and freeze it in pre-measured portions. Since I usually do at least a double batch, I freeze two cup allotments.

Finally, I pretty much always make a double batch. And very little of it goes to waste. Also, I've been using glass loaf pans and have discovered that, in our oven, 45 minutes is all it takes. The 50 minutes listed in the recipe was just 5 minutes too much.

And there you have it! Tryllyam's Tips for Zucchini Bread. Go! Bake! Enjoy!

Now, to finish out that bucket list...