Monday, June 27, 2011

Making dresses

Summer has begun in ernest.  In the business of swimming lessons, nightly fun swim, playing, cooking, and crafting, it seems that there's just no room left in the day for blogging...and often, not even time to take pictures.  The other day I handed the camera over to Andrew, and he captured an afternoon of dress-making.

Kitchen Sew-shop

My friend Lisa came over for the afternoon with her sewing machine, and we transformed my kitchen into a sew-shop, while I helped Lisa and Rachel work on shirred projects using elastic thread (I have one of my machines set with the proper bobbin tension, so it was just easier for everyone to use that one when they got to that part of their projects).

Kitchen Sew-shop

It's been so much fun getting to spend time with Rachel here in Texas.  We're so glad that she agreed to come back with us for a visit!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back in Texas, and a visit to the dairy farm

On Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the van and headed back to Texas.  After two days on the road, we pulled into our little neighborhood late last night.  This was one of our best visits with family ever, but it's so good to be back in our own beds!  We brought my littlest sister Rachel back with us (she's 13), and we are planning all sorts of crafting adventures for this summer.

Today we went to the fabric store to stock up on supplies for some of our projects:

The result of a fabric shopping trip with Rachel

So much fun!

For the next few days, I'm will be blogging the rest of our Pensilvania trip, and then it'll be back to the usual Life In Texas stuff.

One of our children's favorite things to do when they're at Poppy and Nana's house, is to go to the dairy farm up the road.  They love playing with whatever new batch of kittens happens to be around,

Daisy with a kitten at the dairy farm

petting the calves,

At the dairy farm, learning where milk comes from

At the dairy farm, learning where milk comes from

watching the cows get milked,

At the dairy farm, learning where milk comes from

At the dairy farm, learning where milk comes from

and, most importantly, jumping on the trampoline in the haymow.

Jumping on the trampoline in the haymow

Jumping on the trampoline in the haymow

Farms can be a pretty exciting place!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Camp-out Date Night

On Wednesday night, Greg took me on a Camping Date out in the woods.  It's so wonderful to make time to just be "us"; to spend time without the distractions of children, technology, or any other responsibility, and focus on each other.

Coming back from our camping trip
(Greg taught me how to drive this, although I was a little apprehensive about tipping it or encountering another vehicle on the narrow roads...)

Greg packed up his brother Keith's Polaris Ranger with all of our gear so that we wouldn't have to hike it all in.

My first campfire (that I built myself)

Greg showed me how to build a fire.  I was so excited when it actually lit!

My first campfire (that I built myself)

Behind the fire, you can see stacks of wood for the next morning, sorted by size to make starting the breakfast fire as simple as possible.  Greg is the most organized person I know.  Sometimes it doesn't drive me crazy.  :-)

Camping Date Night

We roasted marshmallows, ate snacks, and talked into the night before turning in, using Keith's camping cabin as shelter instead of pitching a tent.

Camping necessities
Crucial camping gear: Greg's grandpa's old knife, cooking pots, lots of water, and our little Leica point-and-shoot camera.

Bacon over the campfire
Nothing like bacon over a campfire in the morning.

Aunt Susie's eggs, ready to be turned into breakfast
Eggs from Aunt Susie, ready to be turned into breakfast.

Greg making us breakfast in the morning

Once we had packed up all of our things in the morning, we set up a little shooting range for some target practice, using the 22 that Greg's dad gave him for his 7th birthday.

Target practice

(We used our sleeping bag roll as a cushion to steady the barrel)

Target practice

Spent brass from our target practice
Our spent brass

The marshmallow Greg shot right through the middle

Greg shot right through this marshmallow, although I couldn't even graze it.

The can I shot 5 times in a cluster

I wasn't sure that I had even shot this one until we went to retrieve it -- I managed to hit it 5 times all in a cluster!  (Yes, I thought I was awesome.)

We did this little camping trip last year too, and we've decided that we should probably make it a yearly tradition.  It is so refreshing to get away together, even just for a little while.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Elijah's 6th birthday party

On Sunday, my family and Greg's family got together for a birthday party for Elijah.  Greg's parents hosted it at their house, and we all had so much fun!

Birthday cakes

I made a lemon cake with a lemony swiss-meringue-buttercream frosting, and filled it with raspberry jam and vanilla custard cream.  I pressed coconut into the frosting on one of the cakes, but everyone enjoyed that one so much that we ended up coco-nutting the other one as well.

Max and his birthday cake

This cake takes a while to make with all of the steps involved, but after one bite, I always remember why I even bother.  SO delicious!  This is quickly becoming our family's Official Birthday Cake.  Greg is the only one who doesn't like it, but...well, he doesn't actually like ANY cake, so there's not much I can do about that.  (The recipe for this cake is in Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours) (No surprise there!)

Eating dinner at Max's birthay party

We invited lots of cousins and made it a pot-luck dinner.

Five little cousins in a tree

Rachel and Joel taking my children canoeing in the lake

Opening gifts...

Max opening his gifts

Max opening his gifts

Max opening his gifts

Max opening his gifts

As the sun began to set, we gathered around the campfire.

My mom and I

OK, so I only have just this one shot of my mom and I "around" the campfire, but you'll just have to believe me: it was great!  A lovely way to end a very special day.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to the party, and thank you especially to my in-laws Pete and Jill for making the party possible (and all of the hours of work you put into making your house and land ready for us to use!)

For more photos of this event....yes, you guessed it: go to the Flickr set!

Rachel's Dance Recital

One last post from our visit last week before we move on over to our adventures in Pennsylvania!

This past Saturday afternoon, Lavella and I went with Joy and my parents to watch Rachel perform Irish Dance at her recital.

Rachel's dance recital

There were several styles of dance, and a handful of other dance classes from this year that also did Irish dance numbers, but her group was the most together by far, and did a really beautiful job.  I was so proud of her, and it was fun to see what she'd been working on learning all year!

Rachel's dance recital
(Rachel is 2nd from right)

Rachel's dance recital

There was no flash-photgraphy allowed, so getting good pictures was a bit frustrating, but there you go, Grandma Claire!  I know you wish that you could have been there.  Sorry I didn't get a video!

Lavella enjoyed watching the dances...

Daisy, sleeping at Rachel's dance recital

...until she fell asleep in Joy's arms.  At least she managed to stay awake long enough to watch Rachel!

Daisy, sleeping at Rachel's dance recital

For more miscellaneous pictures of our time at my parents' house, you can click through to the Flickr set here.

Ice cream birthday cake

Elijah's birthday was on Wednesday last week.  Even though we had a party planned for the weekend, I still wanted to do something special to celebrate on his actual birthday.  My mom made a gigantic pot of chicken soup, I made a quadruple batch of biscuits (6 pans of biscuits, my friends.  I had cookie cutter fatigue!), and Isaiah and I made two ice cream cakes.

Making ice cream cake with Chazz

We made it in the simplest way possible: we bashed up Oreos, mixed it with melted butter, and pressed that into the bottom of a spring-form pan.

Making ice cream cake with Chazz

Next, we pressed a layer of softened vanilla ice cream, sprinkled more bashed up Oreos over, and finally pressed one more layer of vanilla ice cream over the top.

Making ice cream cake with Chazz

I froze it for several hours before serving, then released it from the pan by blasting the sides for a few seconds with a blow-dryer.

In the past, I've put a layer of whipped cream over the top of my ice-cream cakes as frosting, but this time I decided that simple was best, so we served it just as it was, with no adornment besides the candle.

Max, blowing out the candle on his ice cream cake

It wasn't the most attractive cake ever, but Elijah loved it, and it was enjoyed by everyone else as well.  The simplest birthday cake ever!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wrestling with Grandpa

When we were little, one of our favorite things to do with my dad was to wrestle with him, so it was fun to see him wrestling with our children last week.

Wrestling with Grandpa

(The shirt over his head means that he's Goliath.) (Obviously.)  :-)

Wrestling with Grandpa

Wrestling with Grandpa

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Frog Pond

Each time we visit my family in NY, we take the children to this working farm/farmer's market sort of place called Frog Pond.  They love looking at and petting the baby animals, tasting fresh-picked fruit, and playing in the "sand"-box full of dried corn.  Hannah's toddler Isaiah and my mom joined us for our morning adventure.

My mom, Billy, and my nephew Chazz

Visiting a farm

Visiting a farm
Jonah and Isaiah (Hannah's baby) -- the two little blond boys

Visiting a farm
Checking out the baby chicks and ducks

Visiting a farm

Visiting a farm

Visiting a farm

Greg and Billy

My mom and Chazz

For more pictures from our day, check out the Flickr set here.