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  • February8th

    So, part 4 or our Foodie Training…I think I might have been in a bit of a slump this week.  There was a lot going on and I’ll admit, I didn’t put a ton of effort into this Foodie night and it’s menu planning.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was good…I just filled in a lot with store bought where I could have actually made things myself.  To be honest though, I just didn’t have the energy.  Maybe next time.

    I decided to try Pulled Pork Sandwiches this week.  I’d never cooked a pork shoulder before and wanted to find out if it was something we could throw into the regular rotation (plus it was on sale at the grocery store).  Two things I loved about this recipe:

    1. it was done in a crock pot, so I put it in at 9:30 that morning and delicious, flavorful, fall of the bone, melt in your mouth pork came out at 7:30 that night and
    2. when I ate it I had an overwhelming desire to listen to Tim McGraw, wear cut off shorts and a straw cowboy hat.  It totally made me homesick for the ranch and Colorado.

    Make this recipe tonight and have a hoedown – you will not regret it!

    The dessert was not quite as “country” but still just as fun.  A great summer-y dessert, perfect for February…at least February in California.  :) I made Pavlova,  a meringue based dessert and topped it with a mixed berry sauce.  It was apparently created and named for the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova.  Very light and airy, with a crispy outer shell and a marshmallow-like inside.  The recipe is below, if you’d like to try it yourself.

    Both the pulled pork and the Pavlova got 9 out of 10′s from Kyle and I, but I had to deduct points for the lack of effort put into the meal.  I couldn’t help thinking what “might have been”, so overall the night gets an 8 out of 10.

    Recipe Type: Dessert
    Author: Simply Recipes
    Prep time: 15 mins
    Cook time: 1 hour
    Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
    Serves: 8-10
    A meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside.
    • Meringue:
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
    • pinch salt
    • Topping:
    • 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • Whipped Cream for Topping
    1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
    2. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
    3. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
    4. Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8 to 10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
    5. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside and white – not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
    6. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
    7. Serve topped with your favorite filling – lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
    8. If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.


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  • February6th

    If you ever wondered if preschool boys had any interest in dinosaurs, let me emphatically assure they do!  For the last 2 weeks we have been learning about dinosaurs in our homeschool preschool.  We talked about meat eaters and plant eaters, we sorted by size, we matched pictures to shadows, we made play doh fossils, and we roared…A LOT!  We played dino games, made dino puppets and even learned to how to draw dinosaurs!

    He drew pictures for dad and all the grandparents and then we mailed out his one of a kind artwork.

    We also learned that they came from eggs.  And what better way to learn this, than by making dinosaur eggs!  I found a recipe online for making a dough out of old coffee grounds and flour

    then you mix it into a dough and hide the dinosaur inside

    Once that’s finished, just dry out in an oven, low and slow.

    The next day, Rex had babies!  (No, we haven’t had any sex ed classes yet.  :)  Ever since I got pregnant with Berlin, every now and then he talks about babies being in his tummy.  Then he “opens the door” to let them out so they can play.  The door has a latch sound.)  But I digress…

    Kyle came home from work one night to help the eggs “hatch”.  Kade loved every minute of it.

    The proud “mama” and her babies.

    There are some days that I think this is what I look like as a mom…and I only have two!

    The highlight of the week was pretending to be a paleontologist.  I found this cute kit on Amazon and then Kade and his dad donned their safety glasses and went to work.

    To put it mildly, it was a messy project…

    but that couldn’t dampen the joy of discovery!

    Look out plant eaters, here we come!  ROAR!!


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  • January30th

    I made this file folder game for Kade back in August when we were getting ready to go on our big camping trip to the Giant Sequoias and Yosemite, but it continues to be a huge hit.  I figured if he enjoys it this much, your kids might too.  It’s SUPER simple and easy, so hopefully you can whip one up before camping season starts in a few months.

    I started with 2 file folders and a few scraps of felt that I had lying around.  To begin, I cut some random scenic shapes out of the felt and sewed them directly onto the first folder in layers.  Then for the “cover” I used the second file folder as a stencil and cut out one large piece of brown felt.  Now because I had already sewn the felt on the inside, the first folder was a bit thicker than the second.  So to enable the second folder to give a bit and wrap around everything without pulling, I split it down the center fold.  Then I stitched the large piece of felt to the now 2 pieces of folder.  I then attached a square of felt to act as an outside pocket for the pieces, and then finally stitched the two folders together back-to-back.  Voila!  An outdoor scene!

    Next, I googled “animal silhouettes” and “camping silhouettes” and came up with 2 sets to play with, separately or combined.  Above are my wild mountain animals.  We were going to bear country so I cut out three different bears, these ended up being the only bears we saw on our entire camping trip.  Below is the camping set.  I just sketched out what I couldn’t find on Google and modified to what I new we had (ie. Jeep SUV and pop-out trailer).  My caffeine addiction apparently knows know bounds, as I included a coffee pot and cup as essential camping supplies.  I also decided to take some freedom with my creative expression and dressed “myself” in a red sundress.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never worn a dress in the wilderness, but who’s to say it can’t happen.

    Either way, Kade seems to love it.  He makes up stories about the animals chasing each other and how they try to hide in our camp.  It’s probably one of the simplest and cheapest toys  we have and still a hit.  So embrace the felt, succumb to the creativity and cut out your story – it’s sure to be fun!

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  • January27th

    I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes it feels like our days are intense.  Not intensely bad or good, necessarily.  But we eat our breakfast intensely, clean up furiously, then play vigorously.  Emotions are only felt in the extreme.  We giggle instead of laugh, sob instead of fuss, scream instead of yell.  Some days this doesn’t just go for the kids, but me too.  My theory today is that it’s because of the weather.  The mornings lately are cold and gray and dull – so everything else is vibrant and INTENSE to compensate.  That goes for the editing of these pictures from our afternoon at the park this week, too.  Whatever the reason, sometimes being a mom just calls for a little intensity.  Today I’m intensely grateful!

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