Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crafty Girl Goodness

My girl Katy has inspired me! I check her blog often to both keep up to date on her life and times but also to check out her crafty girl goodness. She has posted recently about these reversible quilted bags and they were so stinking great I had to try them out. I made 2 - one for Lukie and one for Lily - our 2 neighbor kids that are leaving Fort and moving to Atlanta (actually, I made 3 if you include the little one I made using scraps for Lily's doll). They turned out fan-freaking-tastic and I just had to post some pictures of them...
I also wanted to let folks know that "grommeting" (is that really a word?) was really easy. I live in the middle of no-where and was worried about trying to find some kit for this. Well low and behold - Wally World had a little kit for $4.88 and now its got me wanting to grommet everything!

This is the Kiersten's backpack - that's the doll!

I Love Rice Cereal

The was the first time Little Toots tried rice cereal. Grandma LouEllen offered the first spoon and he hasn't looked back since!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anticipation and Texas

I love the anticipation of going on a trip, an adventure, an outing...there is something so sweet about the "thinking" about the event. I love searching online for things to do, gardens to stroll through, Vietnamese food to eat, coffee shops to check out...the whole kit and caboodle. So whats got me on this topic is the fact that we are leaving on Saturday to go to TEXAS.

Can you believe I typed that? Yes sir, indeed, we are heading to the lone star state. I have a conference to attend in Houston (which by the way happens to be the 4th largest city in the country) so we decided to make a trip of it. We are flying into Dallas to meet up with an old friend, then we are driving to Austin and finally to Houston. My MB is meeting us in Houston so she can hang out with Orion for the week. This will be our first plane ride as a threesome and I am sure it will be an adventure.

So, I wrote the above last week and now its one week later and we are back in Fort after a week filled with all things Texas. It was a very relaxing kinda trip - we started in Dallas and met up with Jo, Adrian and Mira - it was great to see them and reconnect. Then we drove to Austin to check out the city that many folks have told us we will love and guess what? Those folks were right. Its a great city - very walkable with great food and interesting buildings. We missed SXSW by one week but the city was hopping with activity and I only wish we had a few more days to dig a little deeper into things.

Jo and Mira

The drive from Austin to Houston was much prettier then I thought it would be. The Texas Bluebells were blooming and the sides of the roads were covered with these low growing dark purple-blue flowers.

The Capitol of Texas - Austin

Spring has sprung in Dallas!

Houston was BIG as only a city in Texas could be - really spread out and sprawling, but honestly I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. That doesn't sound very nice but the truth is I wasn't looking forward to the idea of Texas. We met up with MB and Bill and explored what Houston had to offer - mainly the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show which was a cultural event, some great food (think tasty margaritas, some boiled crawdads, HOOTERS, sushi) and a trip out to Galveston to put our toes in the water and see some of the devastation that Hurricane Ike left behind. The best thing about Houston was spending time with family and the weather! It was beautiful with blue skies and temps in the 70's. We came home to snow and gail force winds...gotta love it.

Houston was also full of firsts for little Toots - first rice cereal, first time on a Texas Long Horn, first time dipping his toes in a pool and of course the first plane ride.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

5 Months Old

Do you know how hard it is to try and capture a picture of a 5 month old with his legs extended...those legs move so fast it's like he is training for the tour de france.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Clockwise from Left: Ina Garten Caramels, Aunt B Caramels #2, Aunt B Caramels #1, Coconut Lime Caramels in the middle

OK, so some of you have heard my rantings and ravings about trying to make home-made caramels. This mini obsession started with Orion's Laughing Way - part of the tradition is to give a small token of appreciation to each guest at the party - I thought it would be a great idea to make salted caramels.
I started with a recipe from Ina Garten that my friend Ansu found on the cooking network. Those caramels turned out hard but flakey and a really wierd color. The second batch was from a blog that I love called coconut lime. They tasted great with a nice chewy texture (just ask my friend Kate) but as they aged they began to crumble and disenigrate before my eyes...not to mention they were a really pale white color.
I decided to go straight to a pro and I emailed my Aunt Bobbi and asked for her secret family recipe for caramels. She makes them every Christmas and those along with her pickeled green beans send me to heaven. Once I had the recipe in hand I looked it over and holy shit it made a lot of caramels. I decided to 1/2 the recipe as my luck so far was not so good. Those caramels turned out a might chewy but with a lovely golden caramel color - which was a first for me in this adventure.
By this time the party had come and gone and I hadn't gotten anyone sick with my many candy making experiements that I handed out. As I looked in the fridge I realized I had another quart of heavy cream and I thought "what the hell" I can't let good cream go to waste why not try another batch of Aunt B's Caramels. I timed it for when little Toots was napping and got busy sweating over a hot stove. This go-round, I followed the recipe perfectly and timed things very carefully - what do you know the caramels got that lovely golden brown color again. I poured them into the pan and sprinkled them with sea salt. After letting them cool I began to pry them out of the pan expecting them to be a little soft and chewy. WRONG O!
I obviously have yet to perfect the caramel recipe. These one are even harder then the first and I seriously fear that someone may break a tooth on them. I have not bought anymore ingredients to try this recipe a 3rd time...I will soon as I feel like I have to master this. I wonder if my elevation has anything to do with the color changes or the reason they were so hard when I cooked only to "hard ball stage"??

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's So Hard...

to get my little Toots to sit still long enough to let the camera focus on him. These were taken when we were sitting on the floor playing around last week. Bella the wonderdog came to investigate and I caught an action shot of her in mid-lick...gotta love dogs.

Just Pictures Tonight

Oma Lotte comes to visit...
Winter hiking

Oma Lotte and Orion in their spots!