Thursday, August 30, 2012

No Rabies

Good news. The bat that Marcus had to FedEx to the OSU Vet Diagnostic Lab yesterday came back with a negative result.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More random summer happenings

More and more tomatoes ripen every day:

Our first "real" tomato, a Cherokee Purple:

Two new things in our house: jicama and a dragon fruit (NOT from our garden!):

Eggplant and tomatoes from our garden:

James was helping me by holding a sleeping Sedric. I guess James got tired waiting for me to get Sedric back:

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another garden update (never enough garden pics)

Very very very overgrown. The overturned dirt in the middle left was potatoes, yum. Lots of weeds in the foreground but at least the other paths are clear:

Mammoth sunflowers are getting tall:

James' pumpkin plant...that's ok, we didn't need to go through that gate anymore.....

Pumpkins are also growing up the deck. We have a big guy growing on the fence that we will need to prop up soon, and one growing in this hanging basket:

Note to self, next year make a new pumpkin patch somewhere OTHER THAN the garden....

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

End of summer

The end of summer is coming near. The kids finished up their summer reading program, with Bunny reading 20 novels, Mariposa and Gemma being read to 20 times, and James reading 20 early-reader books. Here is James reading his last book to the kids, with Bunny's help:

Burby is trying to get all his laziness in before summer ends and he resumes his job as "school room cat":

Hannah goes off to college this week, so last Thursday was our last day with her:

We will miss her!! But all good things must come to an end, so now it is time for me to experience life with five kids and no daytime help. I think I can do it--Gemma is a lot more reasonable than she was even earlier this summer, and she will be a part of our school this year. I think she will really like being a "big girl" and will step up to the challenge of staying out of trouble and helping around the house. We're looking forward to a great school year!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Big cousins play time

Earlier this week we had a big cousins reunion. Only two of Marcus' cousins could come but we still had a good time. Here is the normal crew, plus one second-cousin, Isaac:

Got lots of use of the sport court, at least until cousin-in-law Dominic twisted his ankle. :o(. First sport court injury! Darn. But it was a lot of fun before that happened. All the adult cousins got to catch up like no time had passed (it had been 1/2 year since we saw Michelle, and a lot longer since we saw Rob) and the kid cousins played as if they hadn't seen each other in forever! (it had been less than 24 hours). ;o)

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Devil's Lake camping

We went camping this past weekend with the St. Matthew group as we do every year, and it was just as much fun (maybe even more fun!) as ever. The kids are growing up and that meant less babysitting and more activity. Of course, things were a little different this year with an 8-week old, and because of this we had a hotel room for Sedric, Gemma, and me. Marcus and the 3 oldest kids got a head start on Thursday and the youngers and I headed out on Friday morning, just in time for lunch:

Daisy got to come, too! (although she was a little neglected the whole weekend, since Bunny was more interested in biking than cuddling with her dog).

Devil's Lake State Park is in Lincoln City, just across the highway from the coast. It was different being in town and not out in the boonies, but I kinda liked it...on Friday afternoon our friends who organized the trip offered BABYSITTING (!!) for 2 hours and the adults could go out and do what they wanted. Outlet mall shopping was a favorite, but Marcus and I just went to Starbucks so he could catch up on emails.

This was a very very common scene:

As was this scene. The littler ones (and sometimes big ones) loved playing in the dirt with kitchen toys:

Saturday brought the talent show. Here is the audience:

We performed the hukelau! It was very cute. Marcus is playing his new ukelele:

Nicole organized dirt babies for the kids:

We made it through the week with a lot of help from our friends Caroline and Tess (here is Tess holding Sedric):

Saturday evening was Mass and the potluck. They had roasted a whole pig, yum! I will spare you all the pictures of the head that James took.

The weather was great for us, no rain and mild temperatures. It was in the 90s at home but just the 70s (and 60s) on the coast. The hotel was so close that one night Marcus came with me to give Gemma a tubbie, and then he just walked back to the campsite. Some highlights of the weekend include a bonfire on the beach (complete with fire dancer), kids biking all day, pushing Gemma in the stroller (got lots of walking in!), and of course s'mores. They even had a movie night for the kids! I loved sleeping in the cozy hotel room and having clean towels and running water. :o). The whole weekend was great and a lot of fun, lots of memories were made.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Marcus' birthday cake

Some of you (ok, ONE of you) have asked for the recipe for Marcus' birthday cake.  Marcus had asked for a "pudding cake" as he does almost every year, and doesn't mean a cake with pudding filling.  He means a cake with a box of pudding in the batter, to make a really moist cake.  So I found this easy recipe and it fits the bill perfectly:

The Easiest Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 3.5 oz pkg non-instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 pkg devil's food cake mix
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.  (I use cocoa to "flour" the pan.)
2) In a large saucepan combine the pudding mix with 2 cups milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the pudding is thickened.  Remove from heat.  Pour the dry cake mix into the saucepan and mix until smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
3) Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

For Marcus' cake, I couldn't just stop there!!  I cut the cooled cake lengthwise to make a 2-layer loaf, and filled it with the Chocolate Mousse Frosting recipe from Joy of Cooking.  Then I topped the whole thing with chocolate ganache (4 oz chocolate chips to 1/2 cup cream, melted and mixed).

Notes:  For the mousse filling I followed the recipe but replaced 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate, and increased the butter a bit.  It worked fine.  Also, I strained the hot egg mixture to ensure there would be no lumps.  Finally, for the ganache, the best way is to heat the cream to boiling then pour it over the chocolate chips, but I usually just put it all in the microwave. You have to heat it slowly in 30 second increments, stirring in between, but it works out fine in the end.  It will be very soupy, so wait a bit until it thickens before pouring it on top of the cake.

Random summer happenings

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Garden notes

Note to self: next year, plant even MORE.....

Sweet peas... susans....

...scatter garden flowers...


...and morning glories.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marcus' birthday party

On Sunday the MSpS group hosted family dinner, and it happened to be Marcus' birthday party!

Fr. Domenico and Br. Santos arranged for some games for the kids. First was a water balloon toss. It was a big hit on a hot day:

The little girls skipped the tossing part:

Fr. Domenico had also arranged a scavenger hunt that kept them running around the whole property. The kids LOVED it and the adults liked that they were busy for 15 minutes. :o) They even had prizes for the kids. That was so sweet of them! Everyone went away happy with their choices:

Dinner was FANTASTIC!!!! (did I mention that dinner was great?). We had "street tacos" which is what I call little open-faced corn tortillas with meat and salsas. Fr. Juan made (among other great foods) this great salsa with caramelized onions, bacon, and beer. It was amazing! Also fresh guacamole, citrus chicken, shredded chicken, beef, and soupy beans. And a great drink that is from a secret recipe but it involved tequila so that's all I needed to know! JK...mostly. (you can see that Sedric slept well....). I almost forgot, for appetizers they served chips and salsas and fresh fruit with this neat seasoning that had chile and new favorite is jicama sticks with that seasoning. Delicious!

After dinner we went inside to sing to Marcus:

I had coached the kids to wait until AFTER Marcus made his wish to all blow out the candles...they didn't listen:

Chocolate pudding cake (as requested by the birthday boy) with a chocolate mousse filling and chocolate ganache top:

At the end of the evening Marcus opened his gifts which included ukelele songbooks, T-shirts, basketballs, and socks:

But I say this with all honesty: the real present for Marcus, and for all of us, was the amazing wonderful special time we had in Roy, all thanks to our great hosts. It was a memory-maker type of evening, truly special.

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