Friday, November 13, 2015

Maybe We'll All Start Asking for Chicago Trips for our Birthday

There have been a few times where all Callie wanted for her birthday was to go to Chicago.  Back then it was because of the American Girl doll store.  The doll days are over for her, but certainly not the Chicago part.  This time she had concert plans and clothes shopping in mind.  Thanks to her loving and generous relatives we were able to make it all happen.

Actually, our first destination was Shaumburg, IL.  There is a mall there with several of the stores that Callie wanted to go to.  When we were first planning I pointed out to her that we had all of those stores close by in Indy.  But then.  It dawned on me.  Exactly where was Ikea?  A quick Google search and I was right on board with Callie!  I had only been to one Ikea and it was several years ago so I was totally excited to go again.

Just this week they announced that there will be one within an hour of our house in 2017!! 

 How cool is that?!  An escalator for your cart.  Clearly I have been missing out!
 This was our first time staying over night in the Windy City.  Callie and Cameron had tickets to go see Owl City in concert, so Kate and I did a little exploring close to our hotel.  This park was right across the street.  Skaters, bikers, runners and several dog walkers.  Lots to see and the weather was perfect.

Kate and I found these sculptures very interesting.  We finally found a sign that said who had made them, the name and where they came from, but not a word about what it was suppose to represent.  Bodies with no heads and no explanation.  Very strange.

a food truck for all of the dog walkers


Callie and Cameron had a great time at the concert and Kate and I topped off our evening painting our fingernails and watching two old Downton Abby episodes.  Her choice, really :)

 The next morning was cool and sunny and absolutely beautiful!  It was the perfect blend of chilly but sunny which was good since we walked a million blocks!  We've been to Chicago before, but we've never had as much time to explore.  It was so much fun! 

This was the first cheesecake Factory that Cameron I went to many years ago.  I had never heard of it.  We went with some friends who also were the friends who introduced us to Thai and Indian and Vietnamese food.  We owe them a debt of gratitude!  {Thanks Duong and Jen!}

 Isn't that window display stunning?!  I didn't notice what store it was.  I was being rushed.  One of these days we are going to take a grown up trip to Chicago and I'm going to linger as long as I want to in certain spots.   

Of course no trip to Chicago is complete without pictures at "the bean".  It's official name is Cloud Gate, but everyone calls it the bean.  It's totally cool.

Our driver, aka Cameron, has a love/hate relationship with Chicago.  He likes it on one level, but he hates driving there.  I mean really hates it.  So it was a nice little stress reliever to stop by the lake shore on our way out of town.  It was pretty cold by this time, but it was very pretty.  We had a quick picnic and Callie took some pictures and then we got in the warm, cozy car and drove home.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Camping 2015

I'm mostly going to let the pictures speak for me.  We had a fantastic time camping with my parents and my sisters and their husbands and kids.  It was a little nuts sometimes, but the camp grounds couldn't have been any nicer and everyone had so much fun!  Several of these pictures were taken by Callie, so thank you Callie for letting me borrow them. ;)




I think that big white fluff ball is Lilly's head!  She had a great time too.
It looks like there were no adult women there, but trust me!  We were there! :)

Friday, October 9, 2015

{In the Library Bag}

The above books are my latest hall from the library.  Well, one is a book on CD and the three on the bottom are Kate's.

If you can't tell from the picture, the picture books that we have been enjoying are all by Barbara Cooney.  You just can't go wrong with her books.  They aren't all my favorites, but they are all good.  Kate's favorite has been Roxaboxen and then a second close is Miss Rumphius.  The pictures are lovely and the stories so good!  If you think that picture books are only for "little" kids, read this then if you're interested, search Elizabeth's blog for "picture books" and you find a whole wealth of ideas and picture book love. 

Kate loves to pick out her own books at the library, and only rarely do I make her put one back, but sometimes people write the most stupid books!  I always make sure to find some really good ones to add to the pile and then I don't have to discourage her pics, which are based solely on the covers! ;)

My personal favorite in the pile is Dinner: A Love Story.  I love it!  The personal stories are interesting and funny and the recipes are the perfect balance of yummy, but simple.  They are not gluten free, but easily adapted.  The whole point of this book is good food, but easily doable for busy schedules.  I've made a few so far and they've all been hits.  This is the kind of cookbook that would make a great gift. She has another book out and is working on a third.  Based on her blog, I'm sure they will both be good. 

I've enjoyed listening to Hands Free Mama.  It is a tad bit repetitive, but still good.  Definitely a good reminder to pay attention to what is truly important.

How to Sell Your Crafts Online ended up not really being what I wanted.  It's mostly about the computer side of things.  I don't even know exactly what I was looking for, but this wasn't it.  I'm sure it's  a fine book though. ;)

These are ready to go back and there are more requests ready to pick up.  I love the library!  It's like free shopping. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Happy 16th Birthday Callie!!

Look at those eyes!  That smile!  Oh my heart!! 

This poor first born daughter of ours has had to put up with a lot of parenting mistakes.  Yet she loves us anyway!  She enjoys hanging out together as a family, she doesn't mind being hugged in public, she loves hanging out with her Daddy, she loves her little sister, and she puts up with my over sentimental silliness. 
And just look how she's turned out so far!
Sometimes, she might act like a typical teenager, but there is nothing typical about Callie!  She has made parenting quite an adventure and I wouldn't trade her for anything!!
We love you Callie!!  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

{In the Kitchen}


We were given a giant zucchini last week.  I should have taken a picture, but you've seen them.  Zucchini as big as a toddler's toy baseball bat.

In an attempt to feed this family during this extra busy season, I have come up with a supper plan that I think will be helpful. 

Monday, quick and double, or at least make extra.  Tuesday, the girls and I pack a picnic.  Wednesday is crock-pot night.  Thursday is leftover night.  Friday's not a big deal, I can go gourmet or we can eat frozen pizza. 

My plan for Saturdays is to do some bulk cooking.  Not a whole months or even weeks worth, but something that will help during the next week.  Like maybe a double batch of muffins or a big pot of soup that we can freeze half of.  Which brings me to the zucchini.

I made two loaves of gluten free zucchini bread, one 9x12 gf chocolate cake with zucchini, one Swiss-Onion-Zucchini Bake and a zucchini bacon quiche.  I still have half of the zucchini left!!

 Disregard the bits of flour not mixed in the cake.  Never mix a cake in the pan no matter what the     recipe says!

The Swiss-Onion-Zucchini Bake is from one of my favorite cookbooks.  We got it as a wedding present and I'm not even sure from who.  It is A Grand Heritage:  A Culinary Legacy of Columbus, Mississippi. It's a collection of recipes contributed by women in the area and I'm sorry to say you will not find this on Amazon.  You'll have to marry someone from Columbus. :)  I have never made anything out of this book that was not delicious.  Sometimes I forget about, but I'm always glad when I pull it out again.

I'm assuming I can share this recipe.....

1 large Spanish onion
3 c. thinly sliced zucchini
1/4 c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 .t dry mustard
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese

Sauté onion and zucchini in butter until tender; place in shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Combine eggs, milk, seasonings and half of cheese; pour over vegetables.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until firm.  Serves 6.

I did not have dry mustard and I had Gruyere cheese which I think is a bit milder than Swiss.  And it did not serve 6! :)  I will double it next time I think

The quiche was my favorite.  Bacon!  I only used four pieces crumbled up with cheese and mixed with a little cream and I think 5 eggs.  I sautéed the zucchini first and used over a cup of it shredded.  You could hardly tell it was in there.

We ate the casserole for supper, some of  the bread for snacks (one loaf is still in the freezer), and we had the cake for dessert on Sunday, and yesterday and the quiche for breakfast on Sunday.  Someone may have had cake for breakfast. 

The other part of my plan is that Cameron cooks Saturday night.  I'll let you know how that goes. ;)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The First Three Weeks......

have been wonderful,

and funny,

this is what Kate was doing one morning during the reading of A Little Princess

and creative,

and full of sweetness,
and yes, a little crazy sometimes! 

don't worry, shared with permission
Of course, it should go without saying, there have been a few moments of frustration and maybe even some grumpy, tearful moments too, but overall it's going really well.  I'm really proud of the one who has stepped it up this year and really proud of the sleepy head who is mostly getting up with out hating me and really praying for the one who apparently didn't learn anything last year. LOL  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Let's just say, next summer will contain a little bit of review here and there.

Monday, August 31, 2015

{In the Kitchen}

First up, shampoo.  Yes, shampoo in the kitchen.

I've been making our own shampoo for a couple of months now.   It's super easy and inexpensive.  You may be thinking "why bother?".

Well there are four reasons.  Two people in our house have some scalp issues, one person in our house has major allergy issues and the fourth person does not want to buy expensive, all natural shampoo or harsh chemically loaded dandruff shampoo.

I found this recipe, but I do not use the herbs.  It is super fast to mix up and I love this recipe because it still lathers up nicely, which a lot of the all natural products do not.  The verdict is still out on whether or not it will kick the dandruff, I'm still playing around with which oils are best for that, but it sure feels good and the price is right.

Also over the weekend we made gluten free apple pie.  I used a mix for the crust, Bob's Red Mill, and it was really good!  I'll admit that I was skeptical, but it was really, really good.  Callie has been begging for pie for ages and I just kept putting it off thinking that it wouldn't be any good.  It was fun though and I'm going to teach her how to make regular crust soon.  I used to make pies all the time but had stopped because of the wheat issue and life just gets busy.  But, life's too short not to have pie on a semi regular basis!