Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Princess's Pictures

So I wrote previously about my sister's graduation. In an attempt to keep Princess still during the ceremony, I let her take pictures. They make me giggle looking through them. Her fingers are in nearly every picture she took. And when taking pictures of her surroundings started getting dull, she began trying to get a picture of herself.

A Day of Ceremonies

Today was a day of happy celebrations. I suppose my first little celebration was having my husband home. Unfortunately, he was home because he is sick, but it still was nice. We started out our day with Squirt standing up and jabbering at us from his crib. It was still no fun to have to get up, but he is a cute little bugger.

I made the family a breakfast of blueberry muffins. They could not hold a candle when compared to the gluten-containing ones I used to make, but they weren't all that bad. I have been thinking on a few ideas to help make them better....

Both of the big kids manged to get their science, literature, and grammar done before noon, and Gizmo topped it off by finishing spelling and vocabulary as well. After a quick lunch, it was time to set off for my youngest sibling's high school graduation, leaving a sick hubby behind.

My younger sister, Katie, is 11 years younger than me. I remember carrying her around quite a bit, and even moving her crib into my room because I was so excited to have a baby sister. Throughout much of her childhood I referred to her as Bink, and sometimes I still do in my thoughts. It seems odd that she is old enough to graduate high school. It was a nice ceremony though, and I am glad that we could make it.We went out to dinner to celebrate. Princess loves her Aunt Katie.After dinner, we had to rush home to pick up Brady and get to Gizmo's Girl Scout bridging ceremony. It was definitely not as grand as the graduation, but we were still excited for our girl to join the next level of Girl Scouts, the Cadettes. She has been very excited for today.
I have high hopes and wishes for my sister and Gizmo. It was a really nice, although tiring, day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

Note: While this recipe is gluten free, it is from the days before our family went dairy free.Things have been a little rough this week. Squirt has caught a stomach virus, and while I will not go into details, the result of his being sick is a massive yuck. He has also had a bit of a runny nose and fever due to the fact that he is teething. I took him in to the pediatrician and the only things we can do are to keep him hydrated, give him probiotics, and wait it out. Luckily for us, he is still a cute and pretty happy little guy.

Gizmo also had a camp out with her fellow girl scouts last night. I know that she needs some time to be on her own, and I am not about to stop her, but it is really hard. It is cliche, but they grow up so fast. I never thought I would think the house seemed empty because there was only three kids there, and yet, it really does.

To do something special for Spike and Princess yesterday, since they were not getting to go on a camp out, I told them I would make popcorn in the evening. After some soul searching, I decided that I really wanted caramel popcorn. And since caramel popcorn is so gosh darn good, I decided to share the recipe on here. This is the same way my mom and dad would make it when I was a kid. Mmmm...nostalgia.

First, pop yourself up some popcorn. We use an air popper. Microwave popcorn is a little funky to me, and my kids eat a helluva lot of popcorn, so it just makes more sense. I pop three batches worth for this recipe. If microwave popcorn is all your have, I am guessing it would probably be four to five bags.
I pop the corn in one container, give it a couple of good shakes, and then carefully transfer it to a larger container. Hopefully, all of the un-popped kernels will be on the bottom. Nothing ruins a sugar rush like a cracked tooth.

Next, in a large pot on medium-low heat, melt a stick of butter. When that is melted, add 4 cups of brown sugar and 1 cup of corn syrup. Stir it while the sugar dissolves. You should make sure that you can not see any sugar crystals, and then add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. Keep frequently stirring until the caramel reaches the soft ball stage. If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature will be 235 to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a candy thermometer, get a cup with a few inches of cold water. Drizzle a little bit of the caramel into it, and then reach in and try to form it into a ball, like I did for the picture. If it just dissolves, you need more time. It should take about 10 to 15 minutes to reach the softball stage.

Now you are ready to pour the caramel over the popcorn. You need as big of a container as you can find for this and a stirring utensil that is non-flexible and long. I use a large pot that is roughly the size of a five-gallon bucket, and a large serving spoon. Pour the caramel across the top of the popcorn, and get stirring. The main trick to this is to try and not let the caramel touch your hands. Make sure you get down to the bottom of your container, because the caramel will all pool down there if you don't.

After getting the popcorn as well coated as you possibly can, you can choose how you want to form it. I spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick spray and flatten some in there, and make popcorn balls with the rest. Of course, my family generally eats some while it is still warm and sticky.

Ingredient List:
Popcorn, around 30 cups popped, more or less depending on taste
1 stick of butter
4 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Toy Room Revamp

Having a room solely devoted to my childrens' toys is a wonderful thing. They can go in there, play, and of course make messes, and I can simply shut the door. Except when it gets too bad....like today. Princess and my nephew have been playing in there a lot lately. Due to the large furniture that was in there, and the fact that there was just too many toys, they were not putting things away. Even when I told them to clean up, and it seemed they had made some effort, it still was disastrous.

I peeked in there today to tell them to straighten up in preparation for lunch and was met with a sight that makes my organization-loving heart just want to scream. As horrifying as it was, I took a picture. There was barely room to move, let alone bring in a vacuum. Truth be told, it did not get to this overnight. I did realize it was bad, but was purposely pushing it to the back of my head since we were busy with things like Easter, our anniversary, me and my husband's birthdays, and my husband's gigantic birthday barbecue which involved hosting somewhere around 35 adults and a few handfuls of children at my house. But today I could ignore nor longer.

I passed off Squirt to Gizmo, made Spike sit near the door so I could make sure he was doing his math work, and got moving. In the course of approximately an hour, I moved furniture, organized toys back into their cubbies, and placed books neatly on the shelf. Nearly the entire time, my nephew and Princess were peeking in and asking if they could play.

To top it all off, I put together the small entertainment shelving unit me and my husband had bought at Target for $20. The box has been sitting in our front room for a while now, so it was about time I put the thing together. It works much better in the room than the big desk. We then finally had to get some lunch made and make our way to the library. When I got home, I did take a victory picture of the nice clean room. Now I just need to get the kiddos to keep it that way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Renaissance Fair!

The renaissance fair is a kind of geeky, yet totally fun, event which we have
attended for two years. I mean, where else do you get to gnaw on a smoked turkey leg for lunch and wash it down with a cold birch beer from a blue glass bottle. So last week, we embraced our geekiness (the kids even dressed up a bit) and made our way to the large field of land which had temporarily been transformed into the Utah Renaissance and Fantasy fair.

After getting the blue glass bottles we had bought last year refilled with cream soda, birch beer, honey root beer, and sarsaparilla, we made our way to watch some belly dancers.

Gizmo even tried some scarf dancing of her own with some prompting from Brady. She is the one in the blue dress on the right of the picture.

This dancer's skirt looked so fun to wear.

One of our favorite finds this year was a merchants tent that held a variety of neat objects. Forks and spoons made out of horn, a plethora of neat beads, ladies corsets, and neat clothing items where all inside. One of the things I thought was interesting was the bundles of horse hair. I forgot to ask the shopkeeper what that might be used for. Brady got a really neat wool coat. I think it might work for some steam punk costuming...

We did miss the jousters this year, just due to not being there at the right time, but we did get to see the vaulters. We had not seen them perform before, so it was pretty interesting.

Spike found the blacksmith to be the best parts. He has been asking me how he might be able to start doing blacksmith work himself. The thought of him working around hot metal is not the most comforting, but it is pretty neat to see him thinking about these things. That is him in the green hat asking the blacksmith questions.