Friday, December 31, 2010

Quick Supper Recipe

I love a quick supper recipe. As a matter of fact, that's how I cook 90% of the time.
I like to keep the ingredients for this chicken recipe on hand, so that I can use it as a last minute supper. I try to keep a loaf of French bread in the freezer and cans of chicken breast in the pantry (for a shortcut, if I don't want to cook chicken). I leave out the green onion and fresh chopped tomato sometimes, if I don't have them.

Chicken Hero Sandwich

mix together:
4 c. diced, cooked chicken
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts
3/4 c. mayonnaise
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
5-6 drops Tabasco sauce
5 green onions, including tops
1 c. chopped tomato

1 loaf French bread, split lengthwise
2 c. shredded Co-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice bread lengthwise and place on a baking sheet.
Mix ingredients together, spread over the French bread and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until cheese is bubbly and light brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Austin!

Today is my favorite nephew's birthday! He is a great kid who likes to hunt and watch football. We don't usually get to celebrate his birthday with him, since we have just been there for Christmas.
We wish we could party with you today, Austin! Have a great day!

Happy 11th Birthday!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We have visitors...

We love having visitors at our house--especially these two:

My mother and Digger (who is our dog's litter mate) came to visit for a couple of days. We have had so much fun crafting and shopping for crafting supplies, looking at pictures, hanging out and relaxing (except for all the extra barking).

But who couldn't love this bunch of goodness?

Ellyn is in doggy heaven, because the two pooches follow her around everywhere:

Ryan and Meggan had fun making us fresh squeezed orange juice with the juicer from my mom's house:

We said goodbye today and made some fun memories the past couple of days!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Christmas post

We had a wonderful time with our families celebrating Christmas. I didn't end up getting any pictures of the time with Byron's side of the family, but I got some fun shots of the time we spent with my side.

What greater thing is there for human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life--
to be with each other in silent upspeakable memories.
George Eliot

Christmas eve--we made a couple of pots of soup and played cards. It was a fun evening!

Some people passed on the card game and read their books instead:

Christmas morning, before the chaos--love, love, love these guys!

We drove home on Monday with beautiful hoar frost for our eyes to behold:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Carson family

Years ago, we anticipated the birth of a son. I was so excited for him to come
and can not imagine what Mary must have felt like while she waited for
the birth of Jesus--the Savior of the world!
Join us today in celebrating the most wonderful birth of all time!
Happy birthday Jesus!

We sent out this card in 1998, after Ryan was born.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's a wrap!

I am finished wrapping gifts! I even had time to play a little with making pretty packages, which is almost as fun as crafting.  I love making them pretty, especially now that I have the right supplies.  A couple of years ago, I realized why I struggled to pull together a cute "look" on my packages and tags. My gift wrapping never measured up to my expectations, and my stamped gift tags never seemed to coordinate.
So I came up with a plan...

1. I chose a color scheme to stick with for a LONG time--red, cream/white, brown
2. I purged everything that did not fit the new color scheme by donating it to my local clothes pantry.
3. I purchased a roll of brown paper from Lowes*, some white and kraft gift bags in various sizes,  and a few rolls of gift wrap in the new color scheme.

* the brown paper from Lowes is pretty heavy and isn't as easy to work with as normal gift wrap

For birthdays, I use the same supplies, except I added a package of solid colored gift bags in a variety of colors and colored tissue paper. I coordinate yarn or ribbon and homemade gift tags to finish off the look.

Things work together much better now:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tag Fun

I tagged my kids' gifts in code this year:

I printed these cute number tags on cardstock, cut them out, and attached them to their gifts.
Maybe they won't know which gifts to shake! : )

Here is the fun, free download:

Holiday Band Concerts

All four of our kids are in band this year. We had two holiday band concerts to attend. This will be the only year to hear all four of them at band concerts, since Brandon is a senior.
I wish they had kept out their instruments for the picture, but I didn't catch them in time.
Brandon plays trumpet, Ellyn plays saxophone.

Meggan plays trumpet, Ryan plays clarinet.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What does Jesus want for Christmas?

Have you ever thought about what Jesus would want for Christmas?
Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet. He wants us to LOVE those around us--in our schools, towns, our world! During the Christmas season, I try to think of gifts my family can give to Jesus. In other words, what can we do to love someone around us.

A few years ago, I realized that a lot of students who have breakfast and lunch provided at school might be without food during Christmas break (as well as spring break). We have a wonderful contact person at our school who knows the needs of many students and families in our community. I wish every town could have a gal like her. She gives us a little information on a few families who could really use some groceries, like the ages and number of kids, etc. A day or two before school lets out, we take an evening for our family to make a big grocery store run. We get a couple of shopping carts and our kids help make the decisions of what we could provide for the families. We try to make it nutritious, but also convenient and kid-friendly. (Sometimes I bake cookies before the shopping trip. We take a jug of milk and the cookies and drive around to see Christmas lights after we finish shopping.) When we get the groceries home, I box them up and drop them at the school to go to the families when school lets out for Christmas break. The families pick them up at the school or someone delivers them to their homes. Our contact lady usually delivers for us, since she already knows the families.

I love helping my kids realize ways they can help someone else. I love how our family becomes aware of our blessings and how God has provided all we need and more. The simple, mundane act of grocery shopping can become a labor of love.  These boxes of groceries become our offering--our gift to the Child. 

Dear Jesus, show me ways to love You more. Show me how I can be Your hands and feet. Thank You for coming to Earth so selflessly, knowing what Your time here would bring. Thank you for changing my life and help me show someone else Your amazing love.

Have you thought of Your gift for the Child?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Christmas Card

This year's greetings to friends and family were sent out this week.
This is the picture we mailed out:
(Just keeping it real with the photo strip across the top--it took two sessions with a friend taking the pictures to get a picture we could use. The dog behaved perfectly...that's all I'm going to say about behavior.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Around the House-Christmas

We've been decking the halls at my house. This is a busy time of year, but probably my favorite in spite of the busyness. I love the music, decorating, crafting homemade gifts, baking, etc. (shopping...not so much).
I like to take pictures of the house each December to remember how I "decked the halls."

my front porch:
I'm trying fresh garland for the first time. I'm very happy with the look, but not sure it will stay fresh long enough to suit me.

Just inside the front door:

We cut a real tree at a local tree farm every year:

fireplace in our bedroom:

fake tree--LOVE that it's prelit!

In the kitchen, my grandma's ceramic tree. I was always obsessed with this tree as a child. She probably told me every year of my childhood to not play with the colorful little bulbs, so they wouldn't get lost. (I still love to play with them!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snuggle In -- snow storm!

I woke up and saw this today:

I was excited, because we have an uneventful weekend and will stay home.
 and make cinnamon rolls...
and wrap gifts...
and listen to Christmas music...
and make crafty things...

And I think we will have a white Christmas.
(I'm pretty sure I just heard jingle bells.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

For my project night last Friday night, I tried this new recipe. We gave it a thumbs up--yummy and very easy!

one chocolate cake mix (plus the eggs, water, and oil)
refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (already divided into 24 chunks)
cupcake liners

Mix the chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the box.
Place cupcake liners in muffin tins (makes 24 cupcakes).
Pour equal amounts of cake batter into each cupcake liner and put a chunk of cookie dough into the top of each cupcake. The dough was exposed, but disappeared as they baked.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean.

We ate them without frosting and they tasted great. I think frosting would have made them prettier, but might have been CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD!  Yummy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Project Night

Several years ago, my evening Bible study group decided to have a project night at the end of November. Someone had the idea to use our last meeting to work on addressing Christmas cards together before we took a long holiday break. It really forced me to get everything in order regarding the Christmas cards/picture that I was planning to send to family and friends. Having this project done early completely changed the nature of the month of December for me. Before this time, I had spent hours in December trying to get the picture taken and printed, then get the envelopes addressed and stamped, and finally get them out the door and crossed off my list. This all took so long that it made December extra busy and used time that could have been spent on other things. I spent days worrying about getting the cards done. Our project night helped me change my ways and be able enjoy the season--I vowed to never go back to my old ways!

To make sure I prioritize getting the cards out earlier, I make a note on my November calender each year to buy my postage stamps, print or order address labels, and figure out what envelopes I will be using. I update any addresses that have changed over the past year and print out my address list. I gather everything in a basket, so it is ready to go.  Even if my picture isn't taken yet, I can get a great head start on the project by having the envelopes ready. I have even asked for the envelopes that will come with my photo cards before I have the card printed, in order to start addressing them early--the store managers have been very cooperative in allowing me to take them.

Last Monday I invited friends over for a project night to be held Friday night. Setting the date really pushed me to get my photo card printed, my postage stamps purchased and my address list updated. We gathered around my table after supper last night. Some friends made homemade gift tags, another friend copied some recipes, and I got my envelopes stamped, addressed, and stuffed. We ate chocolate, listened to music, and laughed and told stories. I love having a chance to spend an evening with other moms. I highly recommend "project night"--it is a tradition I plan to continue for many years.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kitchen Island

We knew when we designed our kitchen that we would want a small island or table in the middle. I wanted to shop around a bit, since I was pretty sure I didn't want the island/table to match the cabinets and countertops around the perimeter of the kitchen. I wanted the look of an antique table and was hoping to find something to purchase that was just the right look. I also wanted something portable, because I know of kitchen islands that are in the way sometimes.

At some point in our remodel process, we were forced to have our dining table in the middle of the kitchen. I quickly realized that a standard-height table makes a poor work surface. It is too low to work at standing up.

I met with our kitchen coordinator and ordered a small island in the style of a table, in quarter-sawn oak. It is the same height as the cabinets, so it is a very comfortable work surface.  I paid extra for them to distress it, so that it would look old -- Why does that always seem backwards?

The island was delivered last week, just in time for Thanksgiving food preparation. I decided on soapstone for the countertop and bought a remnant since it just needed a small piece.

The island has been a great addition to the kitchen and we use it constantly. The soapstone gets oiled with mineral oil--more frequently in the beginning. I love the look and function!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Book

If you like to make things, this idea has been one of my favorite:

Since I make a full Thanksgiving dinner for our family every year, I use the same basic recipes over and over. A couple of years ago, I decided to get them all together in one place, to avoid having 6 different cookbooks out on my counter on the big cooking day.

I bought the unfinished flip-album at my local scrapbooking store. I embellished the cover by using the computer, ribbon, and buttons.  Then I made section tabs with cardstock punched with a circle punch. On the inside pages, I wrote the recipes I use in my own handwriting, because maybe one of my grandkids will use it someday and think it's cool to see my penmanship. I left blank pages in every section, to allow for more recipes to be added. I also left some blank pages at the beginning for notes, etc. (For example, I like a reminder of which recipes need to be made the day before. I might add a shopping list at some point.)

If you have special recipes (like Aunt Elaine's cranberry sauce), this is a great way to pass them along.
Happy crafting!


Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you. We had a very relaxing day yesterday, with little obligation other than getting a big meal on the table for dinner.

On this Black Friday morning, I am sitting in my jammies at the computer. I am not even shopping online, although I've wondered if there is a great sale on some item that hasn't even made it onto my shopping list yet. (Maybe I should shop the sales to get ideas.) I have not made a shopping list for Christmas or the 3 extended family birthdays that I buy for in December. The shopping is the most unappealing and overwhelming of all my holiday preparations. I would prefer to stay home and craft, sew, or bake a gift for everyone on my list. Oh, how I wish that Santa's elves would take care of the shopping!  If you have an idea for anyone between the ages of 7 and 67, please pass it along.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kicking off the Holidays...

Meggan and I were invited to join friends and attend a Lori Line concert in Ames on Sunday. (Thanks Mary and Emily!) Lorie Line has been coming to Ames for around 20 years; this performance was part of her "Making Spirits Bright" 2010 holiday tour. It was such a fun way to get in the mood for Christmas and our first time to attend one of her shows.  I can't wait to download some beautiful piano Christmas music to add to my listening library. :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

This cracks me up!!!

Sugarland--"Stuck Like Glue"

I've always loved Sugarland--Jennifer Nettles is about the cutest thing ever and this video is hilarious. Beware: this song will get "stuck" in your head forever!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Have you made any of these yet...

Pumpkin bars are a must-have this time of year. I don't know why I don't make them the rest of the year, but I only make them in the fall. Regardless, we all love them. Make a batch and ENJOY!

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs--beat in electric mixer
then add sugar, oil, and pumpkin; beat 2 minutes:
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
15 oz. can pumpkin

2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon

Pour into a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 min.

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
2. T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Monday, November 15, 2010

A final remodel photo...

One of the final, but most beautiful touches to our remodel project was the fireplace mantle. I wanted something that looked like an antique. I found a picture I loved and our builder made something new, and then he made it look old. (i.e. He scraped and beat and poked it with various tools and such)
It is exactly what I wanted...except the television hanging above it. I'd much rather have some pretties there.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Loved this movie...

Last weekend, our family saw the movie Secretariat with the Missouri relatives.  It was such a great family movie, especially if you love horses. Its full of girl power too.  His owner is a woman in a man's world of horse racing. She bets the family farm on Secretariat and wins big.

and speaking of girl power--
Before we went to the movie, we watched Zenyatta run in the Breeders Cup...oh my! she was so close to winning!  One more length and I think she would have had it!
Do you know about this race horse?
She had never lost a race until last Saturday. It was her final race and would have been her 20th win, but it was not to be. She is an awesome horse to watch--she stays in the back--dead last--for a good part of the race, and then she surges around all the others for the dramatic win. I love it when she beats all the boys! btw--she is a six-year-old! You can watch her races on youtube.  I highly recommend it. We like watching her races for our evening entertainment. She doesn't disappoint.

30 Days of Gratitude--updating daily

Last year I made a December Daily album (find it on the right-hand sidebar and click to view), to document things we did in December. It was fun to take a picture each day for the month of December, but even more fun to look at the completed album throughout the year and remember the things we did to prepare for Christmas.

This year I decided to make a book of November blessings. I am planning to take a picture each day and write a note of what I'm thankful for the 30 days this month. I was also planning to blog about it each day, and I am already behind. Let's hope I finish the month stronger than my start.

Nov 1: I am thankful for my home and I am enjoying the remodeled space with plenty of room for friends. I am so grateful that I have had the privilege of being a stay at home mom and get to make our house a "home".

Nov 2: What a priviledge to be allowed to vote. God bless America!

Nov 3: I am grateful for the teachers my kids have. Parent/teacher conferences were today, and it was great to be reminded that our public school staff does a great job investing in the lives of the kids.

Nov 4: Early out from school, so I took the girls on a quick shopping trip. It was fun to see them interact together. Grateful--I always wanted them to experience sisterhood.

Nov 5: No school today--traveling to Missouri to see the relatives. I am thankful that we have a dependable and comfortable vehicle to travel in with modern conveniences like the dvd player!

Nov 6: Thankful that I got to spend a good part of the day with my mom, which doesn't happen often. We had our creativity hats on at a rubber stamping workshop, which is a hobby we both enjoy.

Nov 7: It was a beautiful day to enjoy God's creation. We spent most of the day outdoors with our extended families in Missouri. We also got some family pictures taken. I am so grateful that we had a great time together. Here's a picture, in case you haven't experienced what it's like to try to get 12 people to look good in a picture. : ) We did get some good ones--for which I am thankful!

Nov 8: Today I crashed--sore throat, runny nose. Grateful that Ryan and Meggan are willing to be servants. They have brought me tea and read aloud the school work that I would normally read to them.

Nov 9: Grateful to be feeling better today. I was even able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful 70 degree weather. It was a nice surprise to have Byron get home from work early, so we took Brandon to Hickory Park for some bbq to celebrate his birthday.

Nov 10: Celebrating the birthday of my oldest child. He is eighteen today and we are so proud of him.
Nov 11: Grateful for the smell of homemade bread in my new kitchen--I feel very blessed.
Nov 12: I am thankful for a garage to park my van in--pouring rain all day today.  Also thankful for Meggan and her sweet friends who had a band concert for the parents this evening. They worked so hard and did a fabulous job. I hope they always want to spend Friday nights performing music for their parents...

Nov 13: Relaxation--Grateful for a Saturday with nothing going on. It was great to catch up on photography work.
Nov 14: I am thankful for the freedom to worship. Also grateful for a 30 minute Panara date with my hubby.
Nov 15: Thankful for my husband's good job, and that he is such a good provider. He left for Europe on a business trip today.
Nov 16: Thankful for my daughter's piano playing.
Nov 17: Thankful that we have an abundance of food available to us in this country. (grocery shopping day)
Nov 18: Three of us went to the dentist today--grateful for no cavities!
Nov 19: Very thankful for dear friends and the lunch date I had today.
Nov 20: Celebrating my hubby's safe return from his week-long business trip.
Nov 21: I am grateful for friends who invited us to a fun piano concert.
Nov 22: Thankful that I finished up organizing my photo albums before the holiday busy-ness starts. Looking at all the photos from the year made me count my blessings.
Nov 23: Grateful for sunshine--it has been very dreary here lately.
Nov 24: The kids are out of school early today, and I love the feel around the house of the beginning of a holiday break. I am thankful for my four children.
Nov  25: Grateful for my family and this country as I celebrate Thanksgiving.
Nov 26: It was a pleasant day as far as the weather was concerned. I got out all the Christmas decorations and started the process of "decking the halls". I am thankful that I can surround myself with the beauty of the holiday season. In so many parts of the world people are suffering. I take my easy and wonderful life for granted.
Nov 27: We visited the local tree farm today and cut our Christmas tree. I am so grateful for this tradition and the fun we have as a family.
Nov 28: The final day of a four-day weekend.  I am thankful for the time we had to get a lot of work done and still have plenty of time to relax and hang out together. I love long weekends at home!
Nov 29: We had a great day of school today--I am grateful to have had the opportunity to homeschool all four of my kids.
Nov 30: I had my yearly exam and mammogram today. I am so fortunate to have great medical care for myself and my family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to my oldest...

My oldest son Brandon is eighteen today. We are really proud of the young man he is becoming. It seems strange to have an eighteen year I old enough for that? He is a great kid and we love having him around. It will be so different around here when he leaves for college.

Eighteen things about Brandon:

1. He loves to be outdoors--hunting, fishing, trapping, working; and he doesn't mind the cold or the heat.
2. He has a dry sense of humor.
3. He is very responsible.
4. He is introverted, but likes to be around his favorite people.
5. My yard will suffer when he leaves home, because he is so great at landscaping.
6. He is hungry all the time, and if he gets REALLY hungry he's grouchy.
7. He asks me what there is to eat all the time.
8. He has loved to dig since he was old enough to sit up. (snow, dirt, rocks, etc.)
9. He still loves to dig.
10. He is a senior this year--he played football and will go out for track.
11. He is planning to go to Iowa State University and major in construction engineering.
12. He is good at math and science.
13. He is a talented musician--plays trumpet, guitar, mandolin, and can still play a bit on the piano.
14. He is respectful to his elders.
15. He loves his family.
16. He loves Jesus and has a rock-solid type of faith. His spiritual gift is service.
17. He doesn't like change.
18. He likes to say he's from Missouri, in spite of the fact that he was born in Iowa. Missouri feels like home to him as much as his Iowa home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Birthday Girl--sweet 16!

My oldest daughter Ellyn turned 16 on October 31. She was born at 6:05 on a Halloween night. How could she be 16 already? Wasn't it yesterday that she was running around in the back yard playing Little House on the Prairie? Wasn't it yesterday that she was rocking and burping her babies?  She has grown into a beautiful young woman and we are so proud of her.

Sixteen things about Ellyn...

1. She is beautiful--inside and out.
2. She is smart and a good student.
3. She understands herself better than many adults do. She knows her strengths and weaknesses.
4. She has a great sense of humor.
5. She is extroverted and loves people.
6. She is a leader.
7. She is creative--I love her originality when she makes something.
8. She is stubborn and strong willed.
9. She is passionate and dramatic.
10. She is spunky and competitive.
11. She has a fiery personality that matches her vibrant hair.
12. She isn't afraid of being unique.
13. She loves Jesus and is purposeful in living out her faith.
14. She loves her brothers and sister.
15. She doesn't like to cook. (She might need to live with her younger brother or sister when she moves away from home. They know how to cook better than she does.)
16. She is a truth speaker.

Happy 16th birthday Ellyn! I hope you had a great birthday yesterday. I am so blessed to have a daughter like you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This report is music to my ears...

The November 2010 issue of Scientific American has an article entitled "Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind." (Yes, we have a subscription to Scientific American. And no, I don't actually read it. I am grateful that my husband does--it leads to great discussions around the supper table.) You can read the article by clicking here

As a musician and former music teacher, this article will go into my "never throw away" file. It supports what I've been telling my kids for years: that all the piano, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, and fiddle lessons they have endured will benefit them for a lifetime. It states, "Music lessons can produce profound and lasting changes that enhance the general ability to learn." Apparently, neuroscientists have some new monitoring techniques which allow them to see into our brains.  They have found that studying an instrument from an early age can help the brain process sounds better. Musicians are better at concentrating during distractions, mentally attending to several things at once, and learning a new language. If my kids can focus better in science class because of years of piano study and learn how to play the piano, its a BIG win in my book.

When my oldest child was born almost 18 years ago, we received a classical music cd in the goodie bag we brought home from the hospital. (It was not the first classical music cd to be played in our home!) Mothers and fathers played classical music to their unborn babies and in their nurseries at night.  I completely embraced the idea that listening to music did something special to our brains and I had been taught about the "Mozart effect" in college. It turns out that studying music and practicing music has an even greater impact than just listening.

I always knew that I would have my kids take piano lessons and participate in band and/or chorus when they were in school. This new information makes me feel better about the years I have held my ground and not let my children quit piano lessons and drop out of band. I have also watched my kids process through various stages of enjoying their instruments, detesting their instruments, then enjoying them again, which motivates me to have them stick it out for the long haul. Eventually, they come around and stop asking me to let them quit--which is a true reward!  Music has been a wonderful part of my entire life. I hope that my children enjoy it for their whole lives as well. This study gives me peace of mind that even if some of my children won't admit to enjoying music, I can still claim that they have benefitted--after all, they have likely "enhanced their general ability to learn."

As I always say to the kids:
1. You'll thank me someday.
2. Parents have done way worse things to their kids than make them take piano lessons.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

I got this recipe from a magazine while I was on my trip. (Possibly Real Simple, not sure) I thought it would make a fabulous October birthday cake. We need birthday cakes frequently in the fall: mine Oct. 21, Ryan Oct. 23, Ellyn Oct. 31, Brandon Nov. 10. Four of the six of us celebrate birthdays in less than a three week span.  I made the cake for Ryan's birthday on Saturday. We loved it and it was pretty.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
cream together in mixer, beat for 2-3 minutes:
1 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar

add, beating in one at a time:
3 eggs

add, mixing on low:
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. molasses

then combine and add the following gradually:
3 c. flour
5 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt

Pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake 55-65 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 30 minutes.
Invert on rack to cool completely. Transfer to plate or cake stand. Whisk together 1 1/4 c. powdered sugar and 2 T. lemon juice for icing. Drizzle over cake.
***would taste sooo yummy with hazlenut ice cream

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Birthday boy

Today is Ryan's 12th birthday...
He is such a fun kid!

12 things about Ryan:

1. He is easy going.

2. He likes to read non-fiction books.

3. He is a learner and loves going in-depth about specific topics.

4. He is bright and funny.

5. He is introverted and quiet, unless he knows you well--then he might talk your leg off about his newest interest. : )

6. He has a lot of self-discipline. (He has spent the past year being interested in fitness. He ran 7 miles on Thursday.)

7. He is my messiest kid and doesn't mind having this reputation one bit.

8. He plays the clarinet and used to play the piano. He knows more about music history than I do.
 (If you asked him about music, he would say he has no interest in it.)

9. He likes to stay at home.

10. He goes to bed early and gets up early.

11. He likes to cook (but is messy), mostly because he likes to smell things.

12. He has friends of all ages, because he is such a likable guy.

Your family loves you bunches, Ryan. Happy 12th birthday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

RELAXATION--Napa Valley day 3

We are having a great time. Can you tell?
On the topic of relaxation...
At lunch (cooked by someone else), we discussed how we should really try to have a date night every once in a while.
I mentioned that a person can get a massage in our own little town. Even little get-aways are really good, in my opinion.
I feel really relaxed and pampered when I eat a meal cooked by someone else, and ESPECIALLY when I get a massage. But we don't have to go to California or spend a bunch of money to relax.
(We do have to get out of our house, however, because there are a lot of people there who can contribute to stress and make relaxation impossible. It feels like a circus sometimes. Plus they are hungry all the time.) to my darlings: I love you anyway.
We would need to stop getting the mail and answering the phone.
We would need to leave the tv off (hasn't been on once since we got here--thanks honey!) and read more books, play cards and board games instead (but NO fighting during the games--some of our family members are a bit competitive)
We will need to get outside a lot more.
I need to sit by more real fires--bonfires work for me.
I'm pretty sure that Byron will need to quit his job...
Oh wait. That probably won't work.

Maybe we just need to buy two big comfy chairs for the yard.
A little crooked...I used the timer on the camera. : )
And landscape our yard like this:
(There was a wedding right in this spot by our chairs when we arrived Sat.)
I know there are more things that we could do to make our home and down-time more relaxing. But WOW, it is awesome to visit a place so beautiful and have no responsibilities for a few days. I am so grateful that the two of us could come here. We are relaxed and loving every minute of it!

Without a doubt, this helps alot:
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that there is a homemade chocolate on my pillow each night before I go to bed.
(Put there by someone else.)