Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gingerbread House

Happy Birthday, David!

I haven't been very good about remembering birthdays this year, but I remembered this one. I even remembered a couple of days in advance which allowed me to realize that my plan to share this year's gingerbread house in honor of his special day wasn't a new idea. It's what I did a few years ago.

I did find a couple of new pictures, though, in addition to this year's creation above.

For those who are interested, many, many years ago my mom sent me a Pampered Chef gingerbread house mold. It makes creating gingerbread houses much easier, since you don't have to roll out and cut the dough. However, it's still a process, so it doesn't happen that often, but I really enjoyed making one this year, so maybe it will be more frequent in the future. We'll see!

Who says gingerbread houses need to be limited to December?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Just like last year, we were able to drive to my parents for Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time.

Relaxing in the living room

Little kids don't believe in sitting still.

Preparing the green bean casserole.

Mashing potatoes.

Delicious feast!

Someone needed to test all of the pie varieties.

I was impressed, not necessarily with the piano playing (give her time), but definitely with the singing, particularly "I am a Child of God."

This little girl was pretty pleased with herself when she commandeered Great-Grandfather's chair.

After our traditional hike on Friday morning, we helped Holly with her Christmas cards. As usual, she was pretty happy about that. 

Can't forget the traditional ice cream date with Grandpa!

I really do enjoy Christmas decorations, but I discovered that it's possible to go too far overboard. I wonder how much this hotel has to pay to store their decorations when it's not the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Bridal Shower

Happy Two Month Anniversary H&M!

Time for another wedding post; this one will be about the bridal shower, which was kindly and thoughtfully hosted by Michelle's sister-in-law (the one with the house in Utah). Thanks, Elizabeth!!

By the Wednesday before the wedding, family had started gathering, which included the nieces from Atlanta. They were pretty excited to see Aunt Michelle again, and maybe even more excited for the chance to have a party.

The party food and decorations were simple and lovely.

Guess who had dibs on the cupcakes with M&Ms?
Michelle's good friend (whom she met when they were roommates at Helaman Halls) was in charge of the game, which involved bubblegum and trivia questions to help us learn more about the engagement story. It, too, was simple and fun. Thanks, Lexi!

Of course, the most important part of the evening, at least for me, was being able to meet wonderful new ladies, including Hayden's mother and aunt, all of whom love Michelle and just wanted to wish her well in this wonderful new adventure.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Saturdays and Holidays in October

Our September Saturdays were quite eventful, and I'll get to posting about them soon (hopefully), but our October Saturdays were quite busy and productive as well. It was nice to have Jeff and his family join us for some of them, and here are the stories for those of you who couldn't be there!

October 7 - Jonathan Dickinson State Park - The activity for this visit was to rent a canoe and spend some time on the river. We had a wonderful time - see here.

Columbus Day - Cypress Creek - Yes, October is still rainy season, but we thought this hike was far enough from water sources that we wouldn't be sloshing through water. We thought wrong. Read all about it here. However, it was a fairly short hike, and it was a gorgeous day, so afterwards we spent time at our neighborhood pool, and then tried out a new restaurant at the mall - Joe and Ray's Table. It was interesting, but we probably won't go back.

I enjoyed the Lamb Gyro Plate, but Wayne's Beef Burger was a bit undercooked. The traditional Egyptian cookies reminded me of Russian Teacakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowballs; they're known by many different names.

October 14 - Stake Conference - Once again we were responsible for the stake choir and once again we were pleased with the results. We have awesome members in our stake who are willing to go the extra mile. And we enjoyed our traditional Panera dinner between sessions on Saturday.

October 21- Service Project - One last "Mormon Helping Hands" project to help with Hurricane Irma cleanup. Wayne was surprised to find one of his Boy Scouts from 25 years ago also helping with this "multi-ward across stake boundaries" service project. Grant and his growing family are doing great. What a small world!

October 28 - Rainy Day - It was supposed to be a rainy day, so we postponed our scheduled trip to Lantana Beach. However, after breakfast it wasn't actually raining which meant we could work in the yard for a couple of hours. Thanks, Jeff, for helping us remove the stump! Once the rain came we moved indoors, trying a new recipe while watching BYU football on tv. It was nice that they decided to win that game!

Halloween - Celebrating our typical traditions meant we attended the ward Fall Festival and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters. You can read all about this year's activities here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

This year the youth dance was the same night as stake conference (still trying to figure out how that happened) so we didn't attend. That meant we didn't have to come up with a costume (like we did last year and the year before). That's totally okay with me. However, I did help with the costume for Savannah. Her parents came up with the idea; I just did a bit of sewing.

As usual we participated in the Trunk or Treat at the church, by bringing chili and cupcakes along with a few Tootsie Pop Ghosts. Can't forget Wayne's scary eyes! (Savannah was not a fan of them.) It was a nice activity, and we were extremely grateful it was held on the beautiful Friday evening and not the rainy Saturday one.

We didn't carve jack-o-lantern's, but we did put out a few lights in the yard and hang up our paper plate skeleton, which inspired comments from several of the 125 or so trick-or-treaters that came to our door.

Too bad none of these cuties visited our porch, but that's okay. We're grateful for Instagram so that we can still be part of the fun.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Marshmallow Ghosts and Cookie Spiders

Marshmallow Ghosts
Marshmallow Ghosts Recipe

This year's "new" Halloween treat comes from Taste of Home. Just melt 6 ounces of white almond bark for 30-60 seconds in the microwave. Then stir in 2 1/4 cups of mini marshmallows. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper, gently form into "ghost" shapes, and use mini chocolate chips for eyes if desired. Let harden and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookie Spiders
These creations are just our regular Peanut Butter Cookies topped with a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup as soon as they come out of the oven. Press in candy eyes while still warm (so that they stick to the melted chocolate), then let cool and pipe on the legs. I'm trying to decide if I prefer black icing or brown melted chocolate; what do you think?

And here are a couple of "old" ones that we're doing again.

Sweet and Salty Halloween Treats

Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place as many pretzels as you want on the sheet.  Unwrap and place a Hug on the top of each pretzel. Put the cookie sheet in the oven for about 3 minutes, just until the Hugs are shiny.  Pull the tray out of the oven and top each one with a candy corn, pressing down slightly.  Let cool.

Tootsie Pop Ghosts
Wrap a piece of white Kleenex (or tissue paper or paper towel around a Tootsie Pop). Tie a piece of yarn under the sucker. Draw on a ghost face if desired. Display by sticking in either a styrofoam cone or a small glass.

Jello Jigglers

Add 3/4 cup boiling water to one packet (4-serving size) of jello. Stir to dissolve then pour into molds. Chill unto set. If no molds are available, just pour the mixture into a baking pan and then use either a knife or cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes when set.

Orange Caramel Popcorn

Bring 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup and 2 drops each red and yellow food coloring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then pour over a large batch (about 2/3 unpopped) of popcorn. Spread on waxed paper to cool. (Can also use brown sugar and omit the food coloring; see original recipe here.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cypress Creek - The Third Loop

We decided to take advantage of having a Columbus Day holiday (no work) to return to Cypress Creek and do the thrid loop of the Osprey Trail system. 

Even though it was rainy season, we thought this trail would be high enough to be dry, and it started off that way. However, we hadn't gone far at all before we ran into water in the ruts of the trail.

And after a while, we realized it would be fruitless to try and avoid the water. So, we just made up our minds to enjoy our slosh through this beautiful area. As you can see, there were parts when the trail was actually a creek.

You can compare this crossing of Cypress Creek with our earlier ones here and here.

Although a bit damp for our feet, the day was absolutely gorgeous!

We made it to the canal boundary, but at this time of year there were no crops growing on the other side. 

The trail there was dry, but right about the time our feet dried, it was time to turn back into the wet trail.

Once again we took the little detour to the observation deck.

Thought you might like just a glimpse of what our hike sounded like!

One more picture of our beautiful day!

 And, yes, I was there :)