Monday, June 25, 2012


Wow- it is has been so stinking hot here the last week or so it has been literally unbearable.  I know I should be better equipped to handle it, but I guess I've gotten soft in my old age.

As the summer has progressed I am trying really hard to come up with a few new and fun things to do with the boys each week.  Today I decided that we would try going and playing in the river at Elizabeth Furnace.  I was a little worried about getting to a good spot since I know Grayson doesn't have the best footing in the world and I didn't want to walk with little kids down the side of the road along the river (Doug and I do it, but not with kids in tow!)  Doug and I drove along the river the weekend before and found a good place to park OFF the road and that had an easy in access that Grayson could navigate.

 So today I packed a little snack picnic, loaded up the boys in swim trunks and lathered them with sun screen and off we went!  We spent several hours there and eventually had to leave to get home in time to make dinner for Doug and Reece.  I think they could have stayed longer :)  This is something we will certainly be doing again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Worn Out!

Apparently we had a little too much fun this afternoon.  I left the room to get a refill on my drink and when I came back, this is what I found.

Little Blue Truck

I've been lurking around again on the Play at Home Mom site to get summer ideas for the boys.  I am always amazed at the "invitations" they set out for their kids to discover and explore.  When I saw this one, I thought it was about time I tried it!  My kids love the book Little Blue Truck, and I had a sleeve of farm animals tucked away for a rainy day.  So I set up their little table with the book, some trucks, some farm animals, and a big mud puddle and waited to see what would happen.

This particular invitation was really interesting to Gabe.  He spent about 40 minutes at the table arranging the animals, gathering other things from his shelves to add to the story, and making up a story line of his own.  It was really fun to watch/listen his play evolve.  I'll have to do this again!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend Project

Painting the frog face 
  This weekend Doug decided to make a little Adirondack chair for the boys.  Of course, he'll have to make three so they don't fight over who gets to sit in it -- but this weekend was the first attempt.

The amazing thing is that he actually managed to get the entire thing done in one weekend!  This never would have happened a year ago, so maybe we'll survive after all :-)

AND, not only did he get it built, he got it painted.  I expected it to just get painted a solid color - but he decided to paint it like a green frog.

This was pretty fitting considering Reece's favorite 'snuggy' right now is a Melissa and Doug pull along big green (wooden) hoppy frog.  He insists on having it in his lap when he reads, in his bed when he naps, and he tries to gives it pacies.  If not very snuggable, it is very cute.  (OK, it's a bit weird, too - but cute.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meal Planning Monday: June 11

The crud has invaded our house again.  This time it seems to only be me - and my yearly mysterious frog voice.  Laryngitis strikes again.  Usually it sounds worse than it feels after the first 48 hours, so I am going to meal plan for the week with the hope I actually feel like eating.  Plus, I went grocery shopping this weekend before I started to feel crappy - so the fridge is full of food!

Monday:  Grilled Chicken w/tampenade sandwiches and sweet potato fries
Tuesday:  Grilled Steak, corn on the cob
Wednesday: Graduation - probably have to grab something ahead of time
Thursday: Home made Pizza (Prosciutto-Mozza)
Friday: Baked Mac and Cheese with Brocc oli

It looks like I'll be making bread again sometime mid-week.

Thanks to for inspiring me to plan out my meals!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chopped Apple Bread / Muffins

I have been recently had several people ask me about my bread recipes, so it got me thinking I should post another one that I love.  It is a little labor intensive, but it makes LOTS and it is soooo yummy.  The original recipe was for bread - but I found it made spectacular muffins, as well.  So I made both.

Like I said, it is labor intensive (plan on hanging out at home about 3-4 hours for this one), so make sure you read through the entire recipe before you start - maybe even twice - to get your bearings.

To keep you motivated, I put some pictures throughout the recipe. :)

Bread Dough:
  • 6 1/2 - 7 cups of bread or AP flour  (I used AP and it worked just fine)
  • 4 1/2 tsp dry yeast (this is 2 packets for the occasional baker)
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/2 cup dry milk
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
  • 3 Tbs shortening (I am thinking of trying to sub coconut oil for this, but haven't yet)

Apple Mixture:
  • 2 cups apples, chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped into pea sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
Pans : 2 medium (8x4ish) loaf pans, greased AND lined with buttered parchment paper
           muffins tins, greased (to hold hte bread that doesn't fit in your loaf pans

Now start cooking!   (I did the whole recipe by hand, no fancy equipment)

  • Combine 3 cups of the four with all the dry dough ingredients in a LARGE mixing bowl.  Pour in the hot water and stir in the shortening.  Beat the batter about 100 times by hand with pretty hefty strokes.
  • add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a dough you can scoop/lift it from the bowl and get it on the counter.
  • Knead this massive ball of dough until it is elastic and smooth.  Sprinkle more flour as you go if it gets sticky.  Be patient and enjoy the process!
FIRST RISE - 1 hour:
  •  Place the smooth dough back into a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside to double (about an hour)
  • Punch down the dough and place it back on a floured counter.  
  • Press and roll the dough into a large (18 inch or so) square about 1/2" think
  • Let the dough rest a few minutes 
  • Spread the chopped apples evenly all over the surface of the dough, then pour the eggs over the apples.
  • Add the nuts, sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon
  • FOLD the dough into a package (of sorts)  From this point on it will look like a huge mess, but that means you are doing it right!
  • Using a dough scraper of large knife, chop the dough into random pieces about and 1" in size.  They should be random and not uniform.  It will be a huge mess.  It is OK.
  • Scoop up the pieces and dump them and random/messy into your loaf pans until they are about 2/3 full.  Any that don't fit - put in the muffin tins.  DO NOT give in to the idea of over filling the loaf pans.  This bread really grows
SECOND RISE - 40 minutes:
  • Cover the pans with wax or parchment paper and put aside to rise until it is just above the edge of the pans.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 about 20 minutes into this rise.
The parchment paper is a must!
  • Place in the oven and bake until golden brown.  The loaves take about 45 minutes, the muffins about 20.  You can test them by doing the 'cake test' trick.  Remember the apples may try and fool you into thinking the loaf is wet - so be careful.
  • Remove from the oven and ever so carefully turn it out (lift edges of parchment to transfer) to a wire rack to cool.  Be careful!  The bread is still fragile when hot.

While you are waiting on the loaves to cool, you can behold your incredibly beautiful bread and muffins.  They really are spectacular - and they taste as good as they look. 
How freaking good does the look?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Grayson has been in rare form recently, so we thought it might be a good idea to let him go have some one on one time with Doug.  That left me with Gabe and Reece - and it was too cool to really get in the pool, so we needed a new project.

We headed to the stock pile of little pieces of sidewalk chalk and let the boys each pick out a color to turn into chalk paint.  They helped smash them up, brought cups of water to stir them up in, and each grabbed a paintbrush.

Once the paint was all mixed up we headed to the parking lot to 'paint' on the blacktop.  The boys thought the water paint was pretty cool (it just looked wet at first), but as the wind blew over it the water evaporated and the color of the chalk 'magically' showed up.  Once they realized what was happening the painting got much more frenzied as Gabe made lines to "help the cars know where to go" and Reece, of course, promptly copied him.

And yes, Gabe did most of this while still wearing his bicycle helmet.