Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Days Slipping Away

I've noticed that the blogosphere is quieted during summer. Which makes sense because our lives away from the computer are hectic and scattered. For those of us plagued with the long, dreaded winters, summertime is the season to take advantage of the outdoors. 
I am no different. 
Therefore, updates here are sporadic and random.

Sometimes there are just some things I can't help but post, even if they will only become reminiscent posts for myself one day.

Our newest additions at our household came just over two weeks ago.

They arrived in a small box with holes and made a chirping noise.

We are now 'farmers' or 'officially' REAL home schoolers because we have chickens. Our first 19 chicks arrived and the kids are enjoying watching them grow. They are also learning that sometimes animals don't all survive, even at a young age. So far, we've only had one casualty. Eighteen is an even number, so it all works out in the end.

Last week we took an afternoon outing with my parents. We went to check out a small grocery store not too far away that is ran by the Mennonites. It was a major score and such a quiet and clean place. We'll definitely be returning.

While in town, we visited this beautiful church and ran into the priest whom my parents know, so we had a nice visit too. 

An outdoor grotto just perfect for angelic little girls. You see they are folding their hands and implying they have never given their mama any trouble? 

In the swing of summer and the gardens are abundant! I've got to get a garden update posted soon. 

This year I planted cut flowers and I'm reaping the rewards of fresh flowers in vases in my home. I think I'll have to keep on doing this every summer to enjoy my gardens indoors, as well as from my windows. 

The yellow and green beans are also producing. I've already picked several buckets of them and I'm grateful they are doing so well. I was starting the inevitable rationing of last year's beans, but now I don't need to worry quite so much.

The highlight of this week was company coming for supper on Monday. We were blessed with our pastor, the diocesan Vocations Director and a transitional Deacon (he'll be ordained to the priesthood next June) all under one roof. My parents also came to spend a couple of days so they were here, along with another seminarian as well.

To say we had a blast would be an understatement.

As always, the kids were especially fond of the fun that can be had when priests and Deacon visit.

Of course, the little girls are easily entertained when anyone plays with them and does puzzles.

Priceless moment right here.

I insisted offered to take a photo to remember the fun and blog it too.

We also helped out with Vocations Camp: Men of Virtue day camp here this week. You can read more about some of the past years here, here, and here. Due to the small numbers, it was decided that we'd just do the one day camp rather than the overnight. It turned out to be a good decision and the young men who joined us were a great crew. 

My parents helped me cook the meals and entertain my kids so that we could volunteer again with the camp. In the end, as with every year, we enjoyed it and are so glad that we did it.

3 priests, 1 seminarian and 6 young men, just after our supper and before the end of camp.

Now with Vocations Camp behind us, we are looking ahead to the County Fair and sports camp for Jonah next week. 

Keep on enjoying your summer days. 
I know I am because winter will come whether I want it too or not.
 I've got to soak up this sun and beautiful weather while I can. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tween Test Kitchen

Yesterday we celebrated Lily's name day on the feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks. For several years now we've tried to at least hold to the tradition of feasting on cake for each child's saintly name day. 

Since Lily is entering a cake in the County Fair in a couple weeks, we need to do some test runs. What a perfect time than the present to put on the apron and get to baking.

This was her first cake done completely on her own (I was just in the background for suggestions and some direction) and I can't tell you how proud I am of a job well done. I think she was pretty impressed with herself too. I see many more afternoons in the kitchen together in our future.

The critics of the household all agreed that she did quite well for a first cake. Both taste and presentation were excellent. We may make a variation and perhaps glaze change next week when we do another trial. Then we'll decide how she'll make her final for the Fair presentation. 

Would you like the recipe? 

I believe it's a handed down family recipe from Reed's family. I will also include our variation which was vanilla yogurt and I believe this makes this cake much more moist (and appealing IMHO).  Lily also renamed the cake to show her creative flair for the Fair.

Midnight on The Heath Cake
* 1 1/2 this recipe to make 3 (9 inch) round cakes

2 1/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1 1/4 cup Water
3/4 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Vanilla Yogurt

Mix all ingredients with electric mixer and pour evenly into greased pan (this single recipe makes a 9 x 13 cake). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool. 

Filling (for layered cake):

5 oz. Cool Whip
1 cup Heath Toffee Pieces

Mix together in a bowl and divide evenly between layers of the cake when assembling. 


1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
8 Tablespoons Butter
6 Tablespoons Confectioners Powdered Sugar

Put above ingredients in microwave to melt, being watchful not to get too hot or bubbling. Check periodically until ingredients are starting to melt and whisk together checking consistency. Put back in the microwave if needed to get to a smooth consistency thin enough to pour on cake and spread. (Ours was too thick at first, so we added a bit more melted butter) Glaze will become more thick as it sets, so be sure to work quickly if you do not want it to become a thick frosting before you have it all spread out. 
When finished with glaze, sprinkle as many remaining Heath Pieces on top to your desired taste.

Refrigerate cake immediately and keep refrigerated after serving.

If nothing else I think this is a great time (with the Fair as the incentive) for her to spread her wings a bit in the kitchen and for me to let her do it. I remember enjoying baking and cooking in my teen years and helping out in the family kitchen. I can't wait to now share my kitchen space with my oldest daughter.

**Note: I will either revise this post or make a new post of any changes we make leading up to the fair. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Signs Of Summer

There are lots of signs of summertime here in Minnesota right about now. There are also signs of summer on this here blog with the absence of any regular posting.

We're all busy and I've learned that we've got to take the steps back sometimes to enjoy the every day. This morning I read Mary's post (thanks, Colleen) and realized small time blogger status is just fine so I shouldn't feel obligated to post. I've also been thinking more about sitting at the stoop front porch and how to settle in each day when there are so many things to be done this summer.

After a ton of work painting, reorganizing, moving and some redecorating, the great bedroom swap is finished. I'll post photos, I'm sure, but in the meantime I still have all of my school supplies that need a new home. Let's not even consider discussing school plans for the fall, okay? Those are very much still up in the air.

Alas, just some photos I threw together this morning to check in with you all. We're thriving and surviving our summer.

Summer Is:

Swimming at home and at a local outdoor waterpark...

4th of July celebrating with family...

Recitation of his 4th of July poem he wrote...

Fun with glow sticks that grandma brought us...

Blooming flowers that splash the yard with vibrant color...

A spontaneous trip to Como Zoo & Como Town yesterday...

Lots of smiles and fun memories...

Next week has a few things on the calendar and following that will be Vocations Camp and County Fair. I've got kids in 4H for the first time, so we've got some projects that need to get completed. Yikes.

I hope you are enjoying summer and finding plenty of time to relax and have fun.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Toss 'n Go: Sweet & Salty

 Don't call me a genius by definition on this one.

Call me Summer Savvy Mama's In A Hurry Woman.

Ok, genius is shorter.

A few weeks ago when I wanted to put together my own snack mix of some sort I checked the pantry. In a display of the usual pantry randomness I found these few items:

Corn Chex, Honey Nut Cheerios, Pretzels and Raisins

Let's throw them together in a bag, shall we?

And thus was created the easiest snack that suits both the sweet and the salty side of this household.

I'm winning back that Mom of the Year award with this one folks.

**I've also used Multigrain Cheerios instead of Honey Nut Cheerios with the same yummy results.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Theme Thursday: Swim

I didn't want to miss hopping back in on Clan Donaldson's Theme Thursday.
I'll admit that I did have some trouble with the SWIM theme since the weather still hasn't been nice enough to swim yet.

Pulling a cute photo in from last summer's archives was pretty easy.

I then found that last year seemed like yesterday and yet forever ago.

See my 'baby'? 

Where did she go? Now that she's all grown up and nearly 2 1/2, I can't believe that it was just last summer she seemed so much younger.

Time and mothering children are a funny thing.

I'm looking forward to warmer days filled with sun and swim this summer. We're sure to have many more summer adventures awaiting us this year.

Join the others at Cari's for more Theme Thursday fun!

Monday, June 23, 2014

We're On Summer Time Daybook

 Outside my Window...

A cool and bright morning. I can hear the birds singing through the open windows and patio door. It looks like it's going to be a glorious, no rain day perfect for the abundance of weeding I need to get done.

Thankful For...

Summer break and more time outside with the kids.

Treasured memories that find a corner in my heart to take rest.

Four healthy children who are blossoming and enjoying one another, most of the time.

Thinking About...

Patty's post and being 'just' mom this summer. I feel like I am on the brink of a change because the season is changing for my kids too. It's a good thing, but I'm still trying to figure out all the pieces and put them together in an organized puzzle.

Paint colors from Pinterest boards for little girls room. I think I have it narrowed down, but I'm trying to find just the right colors. Of course, I'm not finding curtains I like so potentially a curtain sewing project will be another thing to be thinking about soon.

What I am Reading...

Taking the suggestion from Margaret, I recently purchased The Gift of An Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. While I'm not quite at the same place in my life as the author was, I still can identify and really enjoy the book. It's somehow settling my restlessness and giving me oodles to contemplate.

From The Kitchen...

Snacks, snacks and more snacks!

Homemade pudding pops, smoothie pops, breakfast cookies and summertime favorite, frozen grapes.

Anyone else struggle with a changing summer appetite? I sure do. I never really know what I want to eat and most things don't taste that good in the heat. I'm trying to make good meals for my family, but find myself stuck when my taste buds are lacking.

Praying For...

Trusting in God's divine plan and settling in the midst of the unsettled.

Four new priests in our diocese who were ordained on Saturday. We were blessed enough to all attend the ordination Mass and one of their first Masses. God has blessed us and our diocese with a good crop of young guys to lead our Church.

On Tap for this Week...

Community Ed summer classes for the big kids this week: Lego Builder Workshop, Learn to Sew and Fun with Foods. That alone should successfully keep Ma & Pa's Chauffeur Service busy.

Around the House...

The great bedroom/schoolroom disaster swap of summer '14.

Trust me, it ain't pretty. It's also a lot of work that I cannot seem to find time to get accomplished. It will get there, but I hope it doesn't take all summer. It simply can't. My sanity says so.

Picture to Share...

Way back in 2009 we hosted the first Vocation Camp in our area for the diocese. That year, a young man had finished his first year of seminary and we connected with him, therefore he became a family friend.

That's Aaron in the back row, way on the left:

We've prayed for him these last five years and kept in contact. He even did this really nice thing for the little girls when he heard of their Pope Francis love.

Jump ahead to this past weekend and here is FR. Aaron now:

We are so happy to have shared his special day and First Mass of Thanksgiving with him.

Enjoy your first official week of summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fathers {Late Edition}

Two days later, but I'm still thinking about Father's Day. I thought throwing out a few photos from our day would be a nice little entry. When I looked back at the photos, I again found sufficiency in the simplicity. 

A day to honor dad and husband. A day to just do what they want to do.

Our original plans for a picnic lunch at a park with my dad (my mom had to work over the weekend) had to be changed due to more rain. Instead I served up lovin' in the form of breakfast at my dining room table.

Then we pretty much just hung out and spent time enjoying. Reed went for a bike ride with the big kids in the afternoon and I visited with dad while the girls napped.

Later in the afternoon after dad headed home, we spent time with Reed's dad and mom.

Our Father's Day came to a close with an indoor picnic supper. We figured since we missed out earlier in the day and it was still too wet outdoors, we'd still celebrate indoors.

At the end of the day, dads were honored and loved, our bellies and our hearts were full.

I believe that's the measure of a very good day and Reed felt just the same.
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