Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkins past and present

Pumpkin carving has gotten more complicated over the past few years and a lot more time consuming. The easy part is getting the pumpkin gutted...
We have gotten some special carving tools and it is the third year we have used templates for our carving. It took us almost 2 hours last night to complete our creepy pumpkins with the kids.
The girls had to pick templates that Steve and I at least felt we could do. They also helped poke the holes to transfer the template to their pumpkins.
Look at the concentration on Steve's face!
Here are the finished pumpkins.

The results of Kippy's and my efforts.

Abby & Steve's final product.

Now on to some of the pumpkins from the past....

Nice and simple for Halloween 2004

We even made some non-carved pumpkins in 2005

2006 Pumpkins... obviously no templates and the kids did their own drawings.

Halloween pumpkins in 2007 using templates for the first time.

2008 carved creations....
Now I think I am going to go eat some more toasted pumpkin seeds and prepare to hand out treats to the spooky treaters who dare to stop by.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My failure.

See this little imp? He is my nephew. His name is Nixin. He is four. I tried to bribe him. I failed.
A little background is required. Nixin is kinda shy and I don't get to see him very often because he and his family live near Duluth. So I like to offer incentives to Nix to help him overcome his shy nature. I usually play on his love of sweets, most especially chocolate. I have in the past been known to say things like "Nixin, I'll give you this M&M if you give me a hug." What? Don't judge!

On a recent trip to the farm, we got to celebrate two birthdays, mine and my nephew Noah's (Nix's big brother). On the night we ate my birthday cake, I noticed the incredibly fast way that Nixin shoveled in his cake and how he was particularly infatuated with the frosting. hmmmm... a seed was planted.....
So, two days later, when we celebrated Noah's birthday with this fabulous Bakugan cake made by my aunt Claire, I volunteered to do the cutting of the cake to put my plan in motion. And here is how it went down...

ME: Nixin, I'll give you this frosting if you tell me who is your favorite? [as I pointed to myself and showed him a spatula thickly covered with frosting]

NIXIN: [no response]

ME: Come on, Nix. You can have all this yummy frosting if you tell me that I'm your favorite. Now, who is your favorite? [as I continued to try to entice him with the globs of frosting]

NIXIN: [crickets]

ME: Don't you want the frosting? All you have to do is say that I'm your favorite. [using my best begging and pleading voice]. Who is your favorite?

NIXIN: [very quietly and without any hint of a smile he says]..... Abby

My entire extended family bursts out in laughter. And then Nixin cracks a bit of a smile. I pretend to pout [ok, it was real]. That little punk was playing me!

but he seriously does love Abby more than all the frosting in the world!

Monday, October 26, 2009

More & More ApRonS... now YOU vote!

It started out earlier this year with my desire to have a fun apron. I got a "retro" pattern with three different versions, added fun fabrics and went to work. This is the result of my first retro apron.
On Mother's day, I decided to make my mom an apron and tried a different version.
Then I made my girlfriend, Kathy an apron.
Apron #3
Next was an apron from my girlfriend, Lori. On this one, I experimented a little more with another pattern version and the addition of some super cute rick-rack.
Apron #4
I got a special request from Kathy to make an apron for her daughter, Darian and it turned out looking like this.
Apron #5
My most recent apron was for my girlfriend, Heather, and this one has some bright fabric and HUGE rick-rack across the bottom flounce.
Apron #6
My girls both like to be my stand-in manikin for pictures whenever I finish an apron project. They both want me to make them their own aprons and whenever I find an extra chunk of time that I don't know what to do with, I'll get that done {maybe}.

Now it is time for you to weigh-in and vote... What is your favorite Apron? or Which apron would you choose for either yourself or for my daughters? or What features do you look for in an apron? or Would you ever even wear an apron? I am interested in hearing your opinions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breakfast-in-bed "man-style"

Last Thursday, I got an unexpected surprise from Steve. He decided to treat me with Breakfast-In-Bed for my birthday. I wasn't aware of this fact, so things got a little messed up. First off, I had the day off of work, so was looking forward to sleeping-in. I woke up at 7:20 AM when Steve got out of bed, but promptly rolled over and went back to sleep until 8:10 AM.... total bliss! Then I got out of bed and started to pack as we were going to the farm for the 4-day MEA weekend. It had snowed again that morning (3rd time in the past 4 days) and wanted to pack warm clothes, but I hadn't dug out my winter sweaters yet. But first, I had to make room in my drawer by putting away the summer clothes that I don't think I even had a chance to wear. This whole process resulted in multiple stacks of clothes on the bed, trunk open, dresser drawer pulled out... basically a complete mess in the bedroom.

I then went downstairs to get a suitcase out of the storage closet. I got distracted for a little while checking Facebook, reading birthday wishes, etc. By the time, I got back upstairs it was 8:30 and Steve was in the kitchen with some miscellaneous grocery bags and said, "Happy birthday! I'm making you breakfast-in-bed." I said he didn't have to since I was already out of bed and I had made a complete mess out of the bedroom as well. Now, the girls were up and they wanted to be part of the treat of breakfast-in-bed, so I cleared off the bed, propped up some pillows and climbed back into bed.

In came Steve and the girls with a TV tray singing happy birthday. It was my very first breakfast-in-bed! And it was a feast! I asked Kippy to go grab my camera so I could record the event, but I wouldn't let anyone take pictures of me 'cause I looked like heck with my bedhead and all.

I had a blueberry bagel and strawberry cream cheese...

A sugar-free caramel latte from Java D's and a hard-boiled egg...

And grapefruit juice, the unsweetened kind, which is my FAVORITE!

The entire tray almost tipped over when Abby tried to sit on the edge of the bed, but Steve saved it. It was quite a spread. The giant sea salt grinder and tub of cream cheese gave my breakfast its hearty man-style look.

About five minutes into my first ever breakfast-in-bed, I found myself eating alone in my messy bedroom, awkwardly trying to set up, while my family was in the kitchen eating their own breakfast. In the movies, breakfast-in-bed seems so decadent and romantic, but I found it kind of lonely. Maybe I just need to have more practice??

Thank you, Honey! You are the best!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Celebrating Heather, ALL DAY!!!

Wishing a wonderful birthday to my very dear friend, HEATHER! I am blessed to have a friend like you in my life!! Through life's ups and downs you have kept me grounded, shown me a different perspective, listened intently, made me laugh, given advise, helped me think outside of the box, lent your expertise in a number of areas, and kept my confidences. In a nut-shell... you are an absolute TREASURE!!

So glad to have a SISTER-CHIC like you in my life!
You are beautiful!
You are amazing!
You are incredibly talented and self-less!
You are the sister I never had!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harley Mama

Or at least a wanna-be Harley Mama... according to my folks and hubby since they gave me this new jacket for my b'day.
I'll work to live up to their expectations!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The jumpin' off place

A quote from one of my all time favorite movies seemed appropriate for today.

"Death? Death aint nothing to be afraid of. Look at me. I'm at the jumpin' off place and I aint afraid."

Name that movie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Make the most of it.

About 10 weeks ago, I signed up for the Fargo 10K with my girlfriend, Heather. She thought that I would be helping her train for her first 10K, but the reality was that she gave ME the incentive to get myself ready for the race! I had only done one other 10K in my life and that was in July 2002, when I was quite a bit younger and lighter...
The night before the race, mother nature conspired against us and dumped some snow and even whipped up some fierce wind to go with the cold temperatures. Suddenly we were faced with what-the-heck-to-wear and wondering if we would be able to drive to the Fargo civic center in time... Layers, layers and more layers were needed to contend with the high winds and 23 degree temperatures.
We were at the civic center with plenty of time on Saturday morning and were so lucky to have Heather's sister, Salena, there to distract us and entertain us before the race. For those who don't know Salena, she is one funny gal-pal to have around when you need distraction.

Just before the race started, Heather and I got separated in the crowd and I was so stressed trying to find my bestest-friend! Let me just point out the obvious... when you are basically 5 foot nothing, you can't see anyone else in a crowd of 400 + runners. With only minutes to spare, Heather found me and we were all smiles ready to go. We started out together and just as we began to cross the Veteran's bridge over the Red River, Heather turned to me and said, "See you at the finish-line." I smiled and started off, thinking all the way about the invocation spoken at the beginning of the race... "we pray that You give these participants bodies that bend but don't break..." and I asked God to carry Heather and me if our bodies failed.
At 53 minutes 22 seconds, I crossed the finish line and fumbled with my cold fingers to turn off my stop watch. Steve and the girls were there to greet me and then I quickly went down the course to find Heather and cheer her on. I am so proud of Heather finishing her first 10K and beating her goal time by over 3 minutes!! Less than 6 months ago, Heather began training for her first 5K and now has completed a 10K. She is an inspiration to me and to others on what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.
Together we trained and together we finished! Nothing better than that!
The medal said, Running is life... make the most of it. The reality is that Life is life, make the most of it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The best invention

A bucket of apples can take a bit of time to process by hand, but with this handy contraption, you can be done in no time at all!
Behold the apple peeler, slicer, corer.... this has to be the coolest invention ever! If you don't already have one, you have got to get one.

A few quick turns of the handle and the peel is removed, the core is gone and the apple is neatly sliced.
Here is the final product... a perfectly peeled, cored and sliced apple in literally seconds.
A few quick cuts and your apple ready to go or you could leave as is and have perfect slices.

Eight cups of sliced apples ready for any apple recipe. I typically freeze in 8 cup increments in 1 gallon freezer bags.

Abby put this crumble together this past weekend.

Vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment for warm apple crumble.

6-8 med. apples, peeled, cored, sliced thinly
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash of cinnamon
Dutch Crumble Topping
Toss apples with sugars, salt, spice; pour into greased 9 inch pie pan. Top with Dutch Crumble Topping.

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. flour
2/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
Mix with pastry blender until pebble-like. Sprinkle over apples. You may have to press down lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My worst nightmare!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The brutal reality of braces

Problems began less than 24 hours after Kippy had her braces put on. Her tongue began to get sore from rubbing on the bracket across the roof of her mouth. She kept picking at it and accidentally removed the whole piece which was cemented in. Within 48 hours, she picked off one of the front ties causing the wire to poke out directly into her lip, so Steve had to remove the entire front wire, which was across her 4 front teeth. By day 2, Kippy only had 4 brackets on her front teeth... nothing else. By day 5, before we could get her back into the Orthodontist to get everything fixed, she had knocked off a bracket from her front tooth. Exactly one week after getting her braces, Kippy was back in to have them completely done again. We are hoping this rough start is not predictive of how things will continue, but with this kid, anything is possible.