Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let there be light

Arizonans are used to sunlight, lots of sunlight. Each year as the shortest day of the year approaches I wonder how those who live in Alaska or Scandinavia survive on just an hour or two of sunlight. Every morning at sunrise, I open the garden gate so that my tomatoes can move out of its shadow and soak in just a bit more sun. This week those tomatoes have also worn a nightly frost blanket. We've been unseasonably cold, which of course makes it feel all the more like Christmas.

Hubby spent a week and with the use of helpers brought some light to our home. Perhaps the extra darkness drives the urge to add lights to one's world. This year's favorite new addition is these sparkling "gum drop trees."

I was the special helper who got to pull out my reasoning skills to help make perfect drapes with a set length of light strands along the Italian cypress flower bed wall.

Those colored lights hanging above the flowers look pretty in daylight as well.

I also put up tree #1 today. Let there be light inside as well!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our first Thanksgiving

Sons number "3" and "4" became the fathers of Mabel and Oscar this year. Here they are digesting their first Thanksgiving feast. Well, maybe not Mabel who is now 4 months, but Oscar at 6 months sat at the table where he tried the mashed potatoes and the yams. He preferred the yams. His father preferred seconds!

They also have beautiful mothers who knew each other long before they met my sons. It's nice that way, having a long time best friend in the family.

Aren't they both just the cutest little patooties?! The babies that is!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I love Thanksgiving because it is full of family, food, and my favorite fall things. It feels so good to think about what one has instead of what one wants. Blessings are acknowledged and gratitude expressed. What more could one ask for?

I had the privilege of visiting Ruby's 1st grade class as they presented a little program about Thanksgiving and then shared a meal with their families. As a part of the program, each child told of one thing for which they were thankful. My sweet Ruby was thankful for her family, not her dog or her wii or her bedroom. I was thankful for Ruby sharing the true love of her little heart.

Tonight the pomegranate beating crew arrived.

In no time at all, they had knocked loose the golden seeds of 15 pomegranates.

At the end, we calculated that we had freed at least 1000 pomegranate seeds which would surely make enough salad for 18 people after we added diced apples and bananas, walnuts, and whipped cream.

Heather was ready to tackle a few more. I told her I would have her come later to help me get the remaining pomegranates seeded and in the freezer. Thank you Bunker family for gifting us with a pomegranate tree start those many years ago and then passing on the tradition of pomegranate salad for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow I am expecting the mashed potatoes, green bean snapping, and roll shaping crew that is Nate and Nichelle. The Palmer family will arrive with the stuffing and yams. Sally will keep it healthy bringing a fresh veggie tray after running the Turkey Trot. We will be off to Eric's home after dinner for pies and Julianna's birthday celebration. I also heard that Grandpa Glen has Bingo planned as well.

The turkey and I will be going solo. I'll be out first thing in the morning cutting fresh herbs from the garden to make it extra delish. There is an abundance of thyme!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

Here is another easy bar cookie recipe. We served these at the Relief Society Broadcast dinner two years ago. They remind me of a pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling in taste but are so much easier to make. They are also nice to serve or share this time of year. So when you go to the store for Thanksgiving supplies, pick up an extra can of pumpkin and some cream cheese.

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 cups canned pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda

Beat eggs until fluffy. Add sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Mix remaining dry ingredients and add about 1/3 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. Spread on an ungreased 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar ( or more as needed)
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until proper consistency. Spread evenly on cooled bars.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toby, TBall, and Pomegranates

Toby, who loves Grandpa Glen sooo much, turned six this week. Toby got to spend the night with grandma and grandpa last night. It was definitely his turn as all the cousins except those living out of the country or not potty trained, had come other times in November.

He built Fort Apache in the backyard.

He wanted me to be sure and tell you that the room in the corner is the jail. He also played with the magnets, blew up rocket balloons, and played with grandpa's "gizmo" toys.

Toby helped me harvest pomegranates this morning. I climbed the ladder and he put them in the basket. I usually wait until the day before Thanksgiving, but a storm front is moving in and I didn't want them all splattered on the concrete. We must have pomegranate salad on turkey day. Anybody want to come on Wednesday evening to help get all the seeds out? This is how it's done. That Martha Stewart is pretty clever.

Those are golden pomegranates. The seeds are golden colored and a bit sweeter than the red. My BIL, Lowell, brought us a start from his mother's trees in Bunkerville , Nevada many years ago. Glen has patiently trained it to arch over our garden gate. The harvest this year is the best ever.

After a breakfast of the only sugared cereal he could find in the pantry (not really a breakfast of champions :) we were off to a tee ball double header at the park. He continued on to the end of the season team party at Peter Pipers Pizza. I did not.

Grandpa and Grandma loved your visit cute boy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday gifts

You are looking at the gift I decided that I must have for my birthday, a walking foot for my almost 30 year old Bernina sewing machine. Believe it or not, it cost me 1/6 the original price of my sewing machine!

This model 830 has served me well over the years. I put it on layaway when I was pregnant with Janae. I managed to pay it off in time to sew a blessing dress and pink knit nightgowns with lace before she was born. This was long before ultrasounds and Glen worried for my sanity. I explained, "I have three boys with lots of hand me downs. I'm hoping for a girl and with three little boys AND a new baby, there will be no time to sew such things after this baby is born!"

I gifted myself for my birthday so that I could easily finish my gift for my grandson, Toby.

On a trip to Seattle with my husband in 2004, I came across this 200 year anniversary fabric in a quilting store near the famous fish market. I bought a yard, partly to use as a display about Lewis and Clark in the library of the elementary school where I was librarian. That same year, my Toby made his way to earth in a too early fashion just two days after my birthday. I decided that the Lewis and Clark fabric should be a part of a baby quilt for Toby.

As a full-time librarian, extra time was hard to find and the fabric found its way to a shelf in my sewing room. This year I was determined to make the fabric into a larger quilt for a very special soon to be six-year-old. That walking foot made the machine quilting of this quilt an easy task!

Last night, Toby and I celebrated together. We baked homemade pizzas on the grill and enjoyed gathering as a family in our outdoor dining space. I even got my name added to the Wall-ee cake.

Toby blew our candles out.

But then had to rely on the help of siblings and cousins. Trick candles!!

We took turns opening our gifts. When I unrolled the quilt for Toby, I explained about his birth year, the spectacular journey of over 200 years ago, and how Lewis and Clark had explored the Columbia River which flows by Grandma and Grandpa Kennedy's house in Washington state. "Toby, Lewis and Clark might have even hunted for animals to eat in Grandpa Kennedy's yard!"

His mother piped up, "And we are related to Clark on my mother's (Grandma Kennedy's) side of the family!"

Toby, not so impressed having just opened new Legos and other cool gifts, moved on. That is why I also gave him a copy of this book.

It was one of the favorites of students in the library. I told him his mother would read it to him so that he would better understand the significance of his quilt.

I have been slowly making my way through this book this Fall.

This morning I read the section where they made their way past the Kennedy's house heading back East. I am sure that my reading of this book helped prompt my resolve to finally make Toby the quilt this year for his birthday.

Thanks to everyone for making my birthday a fun and special one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ebelskivers and grand girls

This morning it took me over an hour to prepare breakfast. My three oldest granddaughters had joined me for a "grand girls sleepover." I had planned for weeks to make them ebelskivers for breakfast.

I had purchased this cookbook at Williams Sonoma after Glen had presented me with the Lodge cast iron ebelskiver pan on a whim. I made the vanilla batter filled with cream cheese mixture ebelskivers. I was very good and got out all the necessary bowls, utensils, and ingredients before beginning. I even followed the directions and separated the eggs and whipped up the egg whites to be folded in at the end. No, that didn't take an hour, but cleaning the pan after trying to turn them before they were done enough did increase the time. I had to let the pan cool down enough to totally clean it so we could try again.

I filled the rounded depressions with two tablespoons of batter after brushing with melted butter and waiting for it to sizzle. I then quickly added a teaspoon full of the cream cheese mixture to each one.

Then one more tablespoon of batter was added to cover the filling. Then I patiently waited for the ebelskivers to be cooked through enough to turn over using these, also from Williams Sonoma.

Viola, this time it worked!

Two more times with all depressions filled and then an additional last four and we were done.

The girls tried to help me eat them up, which we were unable to do. Luckily, Dave stopped by on his way to work to check on his girls and ate a few.

We had our first 40's degree low this Fall last night. My long breakfast meant that sun had come to warm up in the backyard when they finally ventured outside. They love Grandpa Glen's garden paradise.

Both front and back. I love how their imaginations work and how creative they are in their play.

The movie "Ramona and Beezus" came out on DVD this week. I had taken Heather and TJ last summer to see it and Heather and I enjoyed it, so I made a point of purchasing the DVD so my girls and I could watch it at our sleepover. We laughed and laughed, ate popcorn, and danced through the closing credits. They also wanted to watch all the extras. Maybe they were trying to procrastinate bedtime!

Other highlights:
Oscar and Nichelle's visit
Story time and pick a "Children's Friend"
Fairy books and fairy drawing frenzy
Extended day as all joined in on going to Heather's house to watch Toby and Julianna while Susan was at the doctor
Making our own longest picture in the world
Playing in Heather's backyard as we watched a storm roll in over the Superstitions
Talking to Ruby and Sadie about growing up on a dairy farm and my father, Gary, as we passed the the Jersey dairy farm on Elliot Road

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

True seasons

Last month in Utah, it was all about pumpkins and beautiful Fall weather. This month Glen is driving through blizzards. I'm actually happy to be left behind in Arizona to watch my sugar snap and sweet peas break through the soil.

Here are a couple of scenes from October's Utah journey.

I love Fall and must have a scenic fall color drive each year to be truly happy. This is the copse of trees I look forward to seeing when driving Highway 20 from Interstate 15 to the 89.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Images from the Garden Tour 2010

Glen invited about 50 people to enter his garden gate this morning. I hope that you enjoy my photos of the Garden Tour.