Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mom's Birthday Weekend

Big weekend! Mom's birthday is on the 27th, so my brother John and his wife Andrea came for a visit. And who else did they bring? YEA! Xander and Selene, my cute nephew and niece. We had so much fun playing, talking, and of course, eating!

All three grandkids in their bumbos with their Gram.

 Xander and Selene are anxious to play with their cousin, but they'll have to wait a while yet for Ryder to get bigger.

Selene saying "Hooray!" for all of us.

This is where we spent most of our time - playing in the living room with many toys, especially my old kitchen playset.

Gram, Pops, Xander and Ryder.

Xander loved for Mike to play the guitar.

Andrea ridin' the three wheeler.

And to top it all off, Ryder accomplished big feats after John and Andrea left. That afternoon he started grabbing his feet while lying down and rolled over for the first time! I'm so proud of my boy!

All in all it was a really great weekend for Mom and for the rest of us. It's nice to have a family that gets along so well, even more awesome when both sides of your family are that way. We are truly blessed.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby Rockstar Mobile

I've been working on the concept for my baby mobile for a while. My mom said she had my old mobile in storage, and that I could use the mechanisms to make my own. Unfortunately we have not stumbled upon it, but I decided to work on the mobile part anyway. Here's what I ended up with:

I know it's kind of hard to see what all is actually  mobile, but without it hanging on something it's really hard to photograph. I made the frame out of drumsticks that I tethered together with a broken guitar string. Then I splattered paint on it in the colors of his room. I had these music note ornaments that I painted the right colors, but I only had three. I had an extra hook in a "J" shape, so I took the hook part off and painted it the right color. The black and silver guitar in the middle was a decal that a local music shop gave to me. My husband drilled small (I mean tiny) holes into the ends of the drumsticks, and that's where I strung everything up using macrame cord. I would have used more guitar string, but I only had one. I might replace the cord next time I restring my guitar.

Now all I have to do is find a mobile frame to fasten it to. The search continues...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Home Made Cranberry Sauce

Once you have it, you can never go back. Home made sauce is the best!! I always buy the fresh cranberries in the fall and can the sauce I make out of it. It tastes great on turkey or chicken, but it's great for a jam as well, on toast or pancakes. It has to be by far the EASIEST sauce I've ever made, but oh so tasty.

Cranberry Sauce

1 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
1 lb fresh cranberries

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow sugar to dissolve and mixture to boil. Add cranberries and stir. The cranberries will pop and become mushier as you let it continue to cook on medium. Once it has reached its mushiness, turn it down to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

My mother-in-law's birthday was last night - she turned the big 6-0! You'd never guess it looking at her, she's such a mover and shaker. Grandma Hix (Marilyn's mom) threw her a nice dinner with the kids (and some extended family, tee hee). The families are growing, with kids running and playing everywhere.

Marilyn & Lee

Grandma's cake

Jasper, Nadia, Ava, Gracie and Ryder

Beans: Cook and Store Your Own

Ever wanted to cook your own beans? Well maybe you didn't but either way, it's very easy to do and will save you some money. We're not talking huge amounts of money, but when you think about spending 68 cents on one can and you can get more than four cans worth out of a 2lb bag of dry beans that you pay $1.22 for, it can make a difference. Plus home cooked beans taste better, to me anyway. This recipe is for chili pinto beans, but the cooking method could be applied to any kind of bean, just omit the chili powder.

Note: this recipe is for beans that you freeze, not can.

Chili Beans

Start with a 2lb bag of dry pinto beans. Empty bag into a colander and rinse through, checking to make sure there are no rocks mixed in with the beans. Put each handful into a large pot. Cover with water.

Bring to a boil on high; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 1 hour.

Pour beans back into colander and rinse pot. Rinse beans again, returning to the pot. Cover with water.

Add 4 heaping spoonfuls of chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Cook on medium until beans are desired softness.

You can store beans in the freezer until you're ready to use them. Makes about 4 cans worth of beans.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Ridin' Slow on Sunday Morning..."

Okay, so it was afternoon. Ryder was needing a little perk and the beautiful sun was beckoning me. Nick took us for a ride on the gator, nice and slow. It is a beautiful time of year in Texas; a late fall/winter look everywhere. You can see through all the trees across woods you'd never normally see from the trails.

There's something so awesome about living in the country. So much freedom and enjoyment to be had in the simplest things, such as a ride around your own property.

Ryder when the ride started...

Ryder at the end of the ride.
(don't worry, he wasn't like this the whole time)

Love your kingdom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Putting Bread on the Table

My mom gave me this recipe for whole wheat bread. It's really tasty, and not too dry for whole wheat. I imagine you can use white flour, but I've never tried it. My husband, Nick, loves coming home to the smell of fresh made bread and tearing apart a whole loaf!

(3 loaves)

3 3/4 c. warm water (test on wrist- if you can't feel it, it's perfect) in a large bowl.
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp dry yeast
1/4 c. honey
Let stand 10 minutes.

Add 3 c. flour and 2 teaspoons salt - Mix with electric mixer.

Add 2 c. flour and 1/4 c. softened butter or oil.

Add 3-4 c. flour until it's flexible and not too sticky. The more you mix the better. You might want to use your hands at this point.

Cover with a towel and let rise one hour till it doubles.

Ryder watched me get the dough going.

Knead. Let rise another hour.

Knead again - put in three greased loaf pans. Cover with a towel.

Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Put in cold oven and turn it to 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cool for a little bit then remove from loaf pans to cool completely.

Enjoy. Nick sure does.

I usually slice and freeze my extra loaves. It all depends on how much Nick eats when he gets home from work. I love having home made bread, it makes the best toast and sandwiches. Goes great with soup too. There's nothing that makes you feel more like a housewife than making your own bread!

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