Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Have A 10-year-old!

I'm sick. Nothing life threatening. Just enough a cold to make me feel miserable. And forget what day this is. I should be napping. Or something like that. Instead I blog.

My little guy turned 10 just a few days ago. I'm not sure if I'm ready for double digits, yet. He's worried that he won't like playing with toys for too much longer. His daddy assured him that he will always like playing with "toys," but that they will just change a little. I have to say that worries me a little bit!

We adopted Josiah when he was just 2 weeks old. Actually, we got custody of him when he was 2 weeks old and formally adopted him when he was just a little over 6 months old (after the required waiting period was over). I had struggled with infertility and some really serious health issues. I really wasn't supposed to have a baby, but I got pregnant in the summer of 2001. Big surprise! But our joy quickly turned to heartache. I lost the baby just a few months later. We also had an adoption attempt fail at the same time. We had been married for 10 years. Josiah was simply a miracle. And he's been a joy ever since.

I have several pictures of him when we got him. But as my brain is in some sort of medically included fog, I'll just share some of my favorites I had on hand.

You will have to excuse the quality of the next few pictures. They were studio pictures and these are the proofs. Still. Can you believe how gorgeous this baby is? This is just a few days after his adoption was final. He appeared in court in this outfit. I think the judge was properly impressed.

This is my favorite of his baby pictures. I think I'll go pinch Josiah's cheeks right now...just because. He might be 10, but he is still my baby.  I melt.

A little older. Still as cute as he can be. That was our miniature weenie dog, Bogey.

He's always been quite the snazzy dresser. I'm a bit worried about Josiah's current style.

Dirt has become his favorite accessory.

But he has always been his own man. boy. fella. 

He is quite creative. And very much the adventurer. And makes me laugh every day.

And everyday I am reminded how blessed Troy and I are. How wonderful this Gift is.

If my head wasn't filled with snot and I was capable of forming a proper sentence, I would tell you how adoption utterly changed my life. And how every time I see the adoption processes trivialized or marginalized or even threatened (especially in pop culture)  I wilt inside. We would do it again if the opportunity presented itself. I can't imagine my life without this boy. This wonderful, funny, smart, quirky boy.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When the Roll is called (I'll be watching a tutorial)

I posted last night about searching for a good dinner roll recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner. Bread making is not as difficult as it might seem...I have been making bread (sans bread machine) since I was a young teenager. There are methods that will guarantee nice and fluffy rolls. I don't mind a bread machine at all. I use one frequently. There is just something about getting your hands into it.

The rolls I made last night were delicious, but a little heavy. I found this youtube video on breadmaking so I could kind of brush up on my bread making skills. Though my recipe is different the technique is tried and true.

As I suspected I had added a little more flour than necessary and I didn't properly even out the portion sizes of my rolls. They didn't turn out as high as I wanted them to. This particular youtube contributor has also uploaded several videos on making a variety of dinner roll shapes from the bread dough.

Can't you just smell the fresh bread baking in the oven? Bring on the butter!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When the Roll is called (I'll be there)

It's almost the big day. Turkey Day. Tomorrow morning we are heading out to spend the a few days with The Studly Muffin's Fam. I am in charge of rolls. At least I have put myself in charge of rolls. Homemade rolls. I don't mind using Rhodes rolls in a pinch. But there is something pretty satisfying about making your own bread. I decided I was going to try out one or two different recipes before I unleashed my roll making skills upon the In-Laws.

I first tried Paula Deen's recipe for Easy Yeast Rolls. They remind me of Angel Biscuits. They were really simple to make, but not as "grand" as I wanted. They were yummy though. Josiah ate several...which in itself is a pretty big deal.

My next and final experiment was a copycat recipe of the famous "Lambert's Throwed Rolls." I live just miles from Lambert's in Ozark, Mo. They specialized in home cooking. But their claim to fame is the fabulous dinner rolls they throw at you while you eat. I can assure you it that it is not as violent as it sounds. It's all in good fun. Nobody I know has ever been seriously wounded. Though a few rolls have been lost.

I used this recipe that I found here. This is how my turned out. I think I used a little more flour than I needed. It's easy to do when making rolls. Next time I am going to add my flour a little at a time.

They were still pretty yummy. Though I did miss the experience of having someone tossing me one. Maybe we should start a new tradition at Thanksgiving. Or maybe not.

I posted last night how Josiah had hijacked the camera (you can read about it here) and I found pictures of a dozen blue men ready to take over the world. I found some more today.

This time they brought friends.

And this time it doesn't look pretty. It appears that they have pilfered through my cabinet leaving destruction in their wake.Josiah told me that it is a Raging Inferno. I'm sorry to say that a Power Ranger has succumbed. In a side note it also appears that Mr. Spock (the old Mr. Spock from the new movie) has arrived on the scene (extreme right)...Captain Kirk shouldn't be far behind. All is not lost. I can rest better tonight.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Handmade Christmas: Tea & Towels

I'm feeling very accomplished tonight. It could be because I am just that much closer to completing my Christmas projects. And it's not even Thanksgiving yet. Of course, the season is still young. I could decide to start weaving baskets using materials I've foraged from the hills and hollers. 'Cause I'm a little crazy like that. I'm kidding. About the foraging part. I wonder if I'd like weaving baskets? Somebody help me.

I also have been on a mission of mercy for my love. The Studly Muffin called about 9:30 with a tale of woe. He's working a 12 hour shift and the caffeine supply has run dry. Josiah and I piled into the car (me in my jammie pants...don't tell my momma) then drove down the street to Sonic for a Route 44. Nothing says love like a late night Cherry Coke run.

Between caffeine deliveries and making sure my family got a hot meal this evening I was busy doing crafty things.  This picture has nothing to do with anything Christmas or Crafty. Josiah hijacked the camera. I found a dozen pictures of these guys when I was downloading my memory card. I'm not sure, but it looks like they might be preparing for an invasion of some sort. If you see any in your neighborhood just send them back our way.

Warning: If you might be related to me. And if you might see me over the holidays you just might be the recipient of any or all of the following items. Just pretend you didn't see a thing. It will be our little secret.

I posted my recipe for Friendship Tea on my blog last year.  This year I made a batch of sugar free spiced tea. I changed the recipe up a bit. Mostly because I couldn't find the container of  orange flavored tea mix I just bought. Instead I used Sugar Free Cranberry Apple Crystal Light. I found the idea for the little bags in a Gooseberry Patch book I got at the library. I just stitched up the bag using muslin and stamped the front. 

They aren't as cute or as "applish" as the original idea, but they will work. And they smell delicious.

And they were fruitful and multiplied.

Then I decorated a few plain gift bags. They are pretty simple. The trees are either scrapbook paper or from old Christmas cards. I did tea stain the one crazy over the top project. Well, maybe not.
Tea staining is really easy. I  dissolved tea in some warm water and put a few drops of vanilla in the mix to make it smell extra special. Then I dipped the tags in the tea and put them on a cookie sheet. I baked the tags in a 175 oven...10 minutes on each side. I could have done a little more embellishment, but I decided just to stamp on them and then use colored pencils to fill in the stamp.  I'm wondering what else I could use my mad tea staining methods on? It was pretty fun. I am easily entertained.

Now I have been working on this next project for a few months now. I am not really patient enough to do real elaborate embroidery. I cut the tea towels out of muslin (the same muslin I used for the little apple bags) and hemmed them up on my sewing machine. I ironed on an embroidery transfer and back stitched the pattern using Christmas colors. I added a little Christmas ribbon and some buttons from Grandma's button box (I used them on the bags, too).  Don't look at my stitches too closely. We'll just pretend that I meant them to be a little wonky.

So here is everything together. My pic is a little blurry and I can see in the background that somebody has been rummaging on the shelf again. It looks highly suspicious to me. 

It's probably the work of these guys. They don't look like they can be trusted.

I have other top secret crafty projects I'll be sharing soon. Just now I am basking in the glow of a completed project.


Gift Idea: Cooks 5-in-1 Power Blender

It's hard to believe, but I am almost done with my Christmas shopping. It's amazing how creative one can be with a limited gift buying budget. I always want to give gifts that the recipient will enjoy...and maybe something just a bit unexpected or kind of cool.  And who doesn't have someone on their list that is hard to buy for.   I do have a gift idea for you that meets the "kind of cool" and "unexpected" criteria. This past Mother's Day my two favorite guys bought me a Cooks 5-in-1 Power Blender. Given my love of Smoothies and Speciality health conscience drinks, it was inspired gift choice for me. I grabbed this image from Google, but you can see all the cool and funky colors it comes in.
 Mine looks like this.The blender comes with 2 blades, one for grinding and one for blending. This little blender can chop, grind, mix, whip and blend.  I primarily use it to make Smoothies. In fact, the Power Blender is so easy to use my 10-year-old son can make a smoothie. What you see here is the blender itself, a tall blending up, the grinding blade and a comfort lip ring that screws on the cup.  I kind of giggled just a bit when I saw that the called the ring a "comfort lip ring." Sounded like something out of "Piercings 'R Us." But I digress.

You can make a Smoothie with almost anything. During the summer I used squash and zucchini straight from the garden. I've even used carrots. The little baggie is filled with frozen banana slices. You can get a bag of nearly overripe bananas next to nothing. Just take them home right away, slice them and stick them in the freezer. I also use tofu on occasion to add extra protein. Basically, I use what I have. Except melon. Never met a melon I liked to put in a smoothie. I'm not sure if it is the texture or what. I find that a cucumber adds a good melon-like flavor...without the melon.

Remember how I told you that it is so easy to use that my 10-year-old can do it? This morning Josiah made me my morning Smoothie. Here's how he did it.

Josiah first added a couple of large spoonfuls of the plain yogurt. You can use any flavor. I usually use the plain. The Cooks Blender also comes with a smaller cup, but I like a big smoothie. I also find it works better if to put the frozen items towards the top. It blends better. The manufactor's directions tells you to leave a little bit of space at the top. This particular smoothie I had to smoosh down a bit.

The nice thing about smoothie making is that you can't really mess it up. Even canned peaches make a good smoothie. We just drained the juice.  Josiah also added a few teaspoons of orange juice concentrate and a little milk to this smoothie.  He then topped it off with a few ice cubes.

 The blade that Josiah is using here is the grinding blade. It helps grind the ice or frozen fruit I often use in my smoothie making. In a pinch I have used the blending blade and it does fine. You have to just let it "whirl" a little longer.



Speaking of "whirling"... You can already see the smoothie coming together. Just be sure to let it "whirl" long enough, especially when using vegetables. Nothing like finding a hunk of zucchini in your Smoothie. Is that a face or what? Actually, he is asking about when we can make a milkshake. Which is another delicious possibility for the Power Blender.

All done!

After it's all "smoothed" up you just place the comfort lip ring on the blending cup, add a straw and you have a smoothie ready to enjoy! I found a few packages of these big straws on sale. They are really great for our smoothie habit.

This is the owner's manual for the Power Blender. Mine actually came with 5 cups. I didn't pay anymore for the 3 extra cups because of a wonderful salesperson. In all honesty, you really don't need the extra cups. I find they just take up space in my cabinet. Even if you have a large family you could use the same cup to blend and pour the smoothies in a drinking glass. The owner's manual describes all the items that come with the product and how to use them. I think it would have been nice to include some recipes as well. The Power Blender can do more than make smoothies and it would have been nice to have had some more specific instructions or recipes for other things.

According to the product website the Power Blender does come with the following; high-power base, stainless steel grinding blade, stainless steel blending blade, 2 tall blending cups, 1 small grinding cup, 2 shaker tops, 2 resealable lids and 2 comfort lip rings (here is the question...are lip rings really comfortable? :<) sorry). 

This product has been such a hit in our house. I bought my Mom for Mother's Day and after I toted it with me on vacation to my in-law's house, my Mother-in-law went out and bought herself one. My mom's Power Blender did burn itself out after one use. But I returned it without any hassle and her new one hasn't had any problems.

I am not familiar with the Magic Bullet, which I am sure this product is modeled after. It might be a superior product, but it also has a hefty price tag and this Power Blender was more in our budget. I also recognize that a regular blender could do the same, but I was able to stick the Power Blender in my suitcase and take it with me on vacation.

You can find the Power Blender online here or at your local JC Penney's Home Store. The original price is 59.99, but I have never seen one for over $30.00. In fact, I sneaked a peek at the Black Friday sale going on at JC Penney's and the Power Blender will be $14.88 with a $10.00 rebate (Nov 25, 2011 - 4am-1pm). What a great deal! When I purchased my mom's Power Blender I had a $10.00 off coupon. Penney's will often have a printable coupon on their website. A really neat gift idea would be to pair your Power Blender with a basket of fruit and some smoothie recipes.

(By the way, I am in no way connected with JC Penneys. A few of the sales people at my local store know me by name, but it has nothing to do with any sort of could be because of those $10.00 off coupons they keep sending me!)

I'll leave you with a Smoothie recipe to try. There are thousands upon thousands of smoothie recipes available online. This is my go-to recipe.

1/4-1/3 cup of yogurt (any flavor)
1 cup of fruit or vegetables (any combination...except melon...remember that!)
2 tsp. frozen juice concentrate or you can use a little bit of already prepared juice
1/4 (or so) milk
3 or 4 ice cubes

Place ingredients in Power Blender cup. Attach Power Blender blade and whirl! Be sure to whirl long enough to blend everything together. You can even do other things while "whirling." Answer an email, put on a load of laundry...put on a load of laundry for a friend.


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