Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Preview

I am always glad for a run-through for Halloween. We forget stuff and some things just don't turn out as planned! We went to a magical Halloween Carnival on Saturday night in Salt Lake and needed to get the kids ready. The night was so fun. It was amazing! It was in a big backyard and there was live haunting music, a real fortune teller, a freak show with a bearded lady and a two headed baby (one of the heads had fangs too!), a unicorn horn, a bycycle made of bones and lots of other scary stuff, fire dancers, and a fantastic reptile show! It was all free too! During the reptile show, Leif and Emilia were wrapped up by a 14 foot python and Atlas helped hold a 120 pound anaconda! I took the little kids to get their fortune told and the lady was only going to let them draw one card, but both Leif and Emilia drew the sword/ sorrow card first that she had them draw two more- I am going to have to brush up on my Tarro reading to better interprete that! We all had a blast!
This is my attempt at a girl pirate cake!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Victorian Birthday Party

My baby is 4! Wow!
It is so fun- I love 3 and 4. They are such great years.
We had a birthday tea party for Paris and 6 of her friends. We played hot potato and musical chairs.
For the thank-you gift we gave flowers. There was no candy- it was great and the girls were so well behaved and cute.

The weather was perfect and the colors in the back yard were so pretty. I love Autumn.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tried and True

I get bored easily. Once I have found something that works, I move on to something else. I know that doesn't make sense, but I like to be challenged. I am trying to change my ways- especially when it comes to recipes that are the bomb. One has to start somewhere when making life changes...
For startes, I have this amazing recipe for chicken potpie that is as easy as it is yummy. Here are the results from my kids- now just so you all know, Richard was out of town when I made this!

I anyone wants the recipe, I'll post it! Someday I hope to have my own family cookbook! This one will be one of the first.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the Fairy and the Grasshopper

Did you ever hear of the story of the Fairy and the grasshopper? I didn't, but I saw it! I even got a good picture of the two of them! Naughty grasshopper- Paris was very upset by it. We had to get Poppet to set it right and chase away that forward grasshopper.


So I mentioned that the kids are taking horseback riding lessons. They love it. All three of the big kids got to a trot and Emilia even galloped a bit- Atlas did too a few weeks ago! Atlas gets turned loose in the arena and Emilia and Leif have been on lead. Emilia got to ride alone yesterday too. It is so fun to watch them. The have good seats!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Early Christmas present...

Ding Dong its Christmas time.... I encourage all to watch all of Gunther's videos- they will make you smile at the least! But beware, the videos are risque' and totally trashy, but oh so funny and over the top...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We took a road trip! I love to travel and go to new places. This trip was a bit new even though I had been to both places before. I’ll start at the beginning. I made reservations months ago to go to Mesa Verde. I changed them three times! Finally it was time to go and I almost changed them again! I dragged Richard away from his work and packed the car. We had to go to the grocery store- the car all packed with 4 kids in tow and already 2 hours late leaving. After getting all our food, we headed to Moab where we planned to stay the night.
We took HWY 89 through Spanish Fork and our phone reception wasn’t so great as we were calling hotels. Now, it should not have been so hard to get a room as it was a Thursday night, but everyone we called was booked. I saw a sign for the Sleep Inn and Comfort Inn (or so I thought) in Moab, with a picture of Arches National Park. I called them using goog411, a fantastic tool usually. Goog411 is a free information service. It is 1800 Goog411 on you key pad. It is great for cell phones as it is free and they connect you for free to what ever number you are searching for, however, one must use patience as it is a computerized service and sometimes it is hard to get the computer to understand what you are looking for. Try it now and see if the computer understands you the first time... So, I got Comfort Inn in Moab and they had a room! We were set...
We drove to Moab with out incident though a little bummed that it was dark as it is a pretty drive. We got there at 10 p.m. and just could not find the hotel. We called and got directions but they did not make sense. We drove all over Moab and called the hotel again. As is turned out, the hotel was in Greenriver, a 40 minute drive back! Goog411 gave us the wrong city and I made a reservation and gave them my credit card! Rich was so bugged! After that 30 minute delay we continued to drive South and found a hotel in Monticello. When we got up the next morning we discovered an empty soda can under one of the beds (we didn’t have any soda). Outside it was beautiful. The mountains looked almost cartoonish as their colors were so brilliant. We got a good start and headed to Colorado.
Now, I am a good navigator. I have taken my kids to lots of places alone, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arches, and Bryce Canyon to name a few all without incident. I have a map in my glove box and I get hotels and camp all by myself. Me and my 4 kids. What happened next is not normal. Richard was driving which was nice for me as I usually am the driver. He asked me where to go and I gave him the directions from memory. After driving for about 2 hours on a lovely road, I was not seeing any signs that I thought we should have been seeing. I checked the map and almost died! We had been driving 2 hours in a wrong direction. We had been driving South West when we should have been driving South East! Yikes! So I sheepishly told Rich that we needed to turn around... He was bugged again, but not so much as the road was beautiful and we had never been there before and most likely wouldn’t be going on that road again. We did see however, the valley of the gods on HWY 191 near Mexican Hat. We stopped at Four Corners and were in 4 states at once. It is on a Navajo Reservation and both boys were called girls!
We took a road East and got to Mesa Verde about 2 hours later then I thought we would. We found our tent site and found out that there are bears in the park- much to the excitement of our kids. We visited the Treehouse that evening and saw lots of deer. When we went to sleep we froze. I remembered it very warm the first time we camped there, 11 years ago and in the summer. I did not expect it to be freezing that night in mid October at 7000 feet elevation! It was so cold that it reminded me of the time I camped on the snow when I was in Young Woman’s and we went on some pre-camp hike and camp in Idlywild and lost the trail because of the unexpected snow. It was miserable that night- though just for Richard and me. Our kids, though cold were in heaven.
Atlas almost cried when we told him we were going to stay the next night in the lodge! Because we saw so many does, the kids started putting money on bucks, bears, wolverines, and turkeys. Unfortunately no one got any money as there were only a ton of female deer! We had a fun day hiking and climbing in Cliff Palace. I don’t remember all the ladders from the first time we went, and if I had, I don’t think that I would have taken all the kids down to see the ruins. When we were listening to the Ranger tell about the site before we started in, we could see people climbing on the face of a cliff, exiting. I thought that it was a different ruin, not the one we were going to see. Down in the site Emilia realized that there was only one way out- not the way we entered. The both of us were a bit panicked. I am not fond of heights, especially with a three year old! And ladders on the face of a cliff did not sound fun. It still doesn’t, but it wasn’t so bad!
We ended up not staying in the lodge. We decided to go to Moab that night instead. But before we left the Park, I connected with a mangy coyote. A car in front of us was stopped. In Yellowstone that would mean an animal sighting, but at Mesa Verde, it meant road construction. Not this time. A very large coyote was standing by the side of the road. As the car in front moved on, we stopped by the large canine. I called out to him (called him a her) in my cooing animal talk. He walked closer. All the kids got so excited and started talking to the coyote and rolled down the windows- hanging out to get a better look. I panicked a bit and told them to get back in the car- with my window down I kept talking and keeping eye contact with him. I really wanted to give him our leftover turkey burger sitting in our cooler. Rich almost did, but then we thought that it might be a conspiracy and a ranger was watching us and would give us a $500 fine for feeding a wild animal. We started to drive off, with the window down, and the coyote followed us. We stopped and reconsidered feeding him, but ultimately left. I think that I left a part of my heart with that sad, beautiful, mangy coyote.
We made it to Moab in record time, considering our little detour previously. On the drive there we were always on the look-out for birds. Leif thinks he saw a bald eagle though he also swears that he saw a wolverine back in Mesa Verde! At one time Richard spotted a volture- Atlas said it was a golden eagle and I didn’t see it. I saw a goshawk- a few, on the tops of telephone poles. Richard thought one looked like a grouse and Atlas thought they all were falcones! I think that we need to go to bird school.
We got to pick any hotel we wanted downtown when we reached Moab! Arches was amazing as usual. During one of the hikes, Atlas grabbed my hand and told me he was glad we came and that it had been better then he had hoped! The kids swam in the pool and warmed up in the hot tub and played in the sand. It was great. On the way home, at a Paris pee stop, Rich found a recently killed owl. It looked like it had hit someone’s windshield. He wrapped it in a plastic bag and put it in our trunk! It is now laying on our recycling bin getting wet in the rain and hail!
All in all the trip was great- it was different then other trips I have taken with the kids. Different dynamics with Rich present. Usually Atlas sits in the front seat and talks to me, but he was moved to the rear to be a kid. There were great times and there were hellish times with the kids in the car. At one point I threatened to pull out all their hair if they didn’t stop fighting and touching each other! Not a hair was harmed by the time we got home but they only got mush for dinner!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Harvest Time

So it is time to tame my wild garden. If anyone near me would like starts of hollyhocks, oregano, time, sage, lemon balm or parsley I have them! Please come and get them or they will go to the trash. The hollyhocks will bloom next year and now is prime time to plant!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I really want to be creative. I am in the kitchen, but I want to expand what I do, so after neglecting the house for 3 days I finally made birthday hats. Paris' birthday is coming up and I have been wanting to make these paper hats for about 2 years, but because everything has to be perfect it hasn't happened. My house has to be clean, I need uninterrupted time, all the right tools (my kitchen has it all), and the right space where I can leave my project. That is a big order to fill and it most likely won't happen like I want it untill all my kids are gone. So with a little motivation from Rich I made 3 hats! It feels so great!

The first hat is for Paris' birthday and the other two are for her two little friends who are having a double birthday party later today!
Late Tuesday night after a late dinner and a late bedtime I made lunch and dinner for Wednesday- that is how I had time to do that hats- not having to cook dinner- and I do put all the pressure on myself to have it be just right. I made little tin meat pies and shepherd's pie. The meat pies I sent with the kids to school with reservations. They are different and I had never made them before... would the kids eat them? When I picked them up from school I asked how their lunches were and Atlas and Emilia told me how much they loved the pies! Emilia told me she wished that I had sent three with her! I asked Leif about it- one never knows with him and he said that he liked them too. I think that he threw it away without tasting, but for his after school snack he ate 2 more!
The nest Richard found back in July. He took the kids to Hobble Creek and found it, but back then it had 4 little blue eggs in it. Luckily he remembered where it was and showed it to me!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Smashed Potatoes

My kids love mashed potatoes but they call them smashed potatoes. I was getting creative in the kitchen and reading autumn recipes on all my favorite websites and on Martha, meat-loaf kept coming up. I had a few pounds of ground turkey in my fridge that I had been needing to use or freeze so I decided to make it! Now, I have maybe had meat-loaf two times in my life and I have never made it and I was a little apprehensive about making it for the kids, but it was a hit. Then I made the three oldest kids meat-loaf sandwiches with mashed potatoes as a spread, for lunch the next day! Even Rich and I had the sandwiches for lunch.

Isn’t that so so funny. Emilia, when she saw me piping the potatoes ran downstairs to the basement to tell Rich that he had better come and see! The potatoes were not hot by the time all the plates were finished, but no one cared! Thanks Martha!
Last Autumn Charla was telling me about a pumpkin cake she had made with maple frosting. It sounded so good and was so good that I have made it maybe two dozen times since. It turns out perfect every time. Here I made it as cupcakes- or muffins- as that sounds healthier, with some warmed up, fantastic, organic, not from concentrate, apple juice.
For Cake:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (270 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
Note: To make your own buttermilk combine 1/2 cup (120 ml) of milk with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes before using.
For Frosting:
8 ounces (228 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour (or spray with Baker's Joy) two - 8 inch (20 cm) cake pans. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the pumpkin batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Divide the batter in half and then pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then invert and remove the cakes from their pans. Cool completely before frosting.
Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of your food processor (or use a hand mixer) and pulse until smooth. Add the maple syrup and confectioners' sugar and process to combine. Adjust syrup or sugar until you have the right consistency.
Place one of the cake layers, top side down, on a serving plate. Frost with a layer of icing. Place the second cake, top side down, onto the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with chopped nuts, if desired. Refrigerate but bring to room temperature before serving.

I also made spanikopita. I was looking at the Rachel Ray Magazine and I saw a recipe for it. I was craving spinach. I added shredded chicken before I put the top layers of filo on and it was great. The kids ate it and wanted seconds, and there were leftovers for lunch for Rich and me. It tasted even better the next day- straight from the fridge.
1 stick (4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
Two 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 pound cottage cheese
12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
One 1/2-pound box phyllo dough
2 cups shredded chicken
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Wipe out the skillet.
2. Place the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water. Add the spinach, cottage cheese, feta, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the onion and stir to combine. Set aside.
3. In the reserved skillet, melt the remaining 1 stick butter. Using a pastry brush, coat a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with melted butter.
4. Unfold the phyllo dough and line the baking dish with 1 phyllo sheet, gently pressing into place and letting any excess hang over the sides. Brush the sheet with more melted butter. Repeat until there are 8 layers of buttered phyllo in the dish. Cover the remaining phyllo sheets with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out.
5. Fill the phyllo-lined baking dish with the reserved spinach mixture. Fold in the overhanging phyllo, sheet by sheet, brushing butter on each sheet. Place another phyllo sheet over the filling and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and butter, brushing the top layer generously with butter. Using a sharp knife, trim the overhanging phyllo sheets to fit the baking dish. Score the top to mark eight servings.
6. Bake the spanakopita until golden-brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Lest one thinks that my recipes always turn out:

a first time recipe of apple bread- I had too much batter for my two pans and I tried to make mimi muffins out of the leftover batter. It would probably have turned out had I used standard size! But I have to say that the bread was great!

Here are some really funny drawings that my kids have made in the last few days:
The first one is from a coloring book and only one of the girls is made by the book- can you guess which one? Rich and I laughed so hard when we found it and the second is Leif experimenting with nudity!