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Lyrical Challenge

Many thanks to Valleygirlwalking for nominating me for the Three Day Lyrical Challenge! Day 1, here I go!

The Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thank you once again, Valleygirlwalking
2. Share one of your favorite songs/lyrics one at a time for three days.
3. Nominate three other bloggers each day. (Or one, one is probably enough)

Nomination

Today, I nominate GypsyRD Her tagline is, “Exploring the wonders of food one bite at a time” and she is definitely doing that. She is constantly teaching me new things about food and how to eat! I am constantly in awe of the recipes she comes up with! Her creativity shines SUPER bright in the kitchen!

The Song

Revelation Song

There is so much to say about this awesome song! It is one of a limited number of songs that really portray the complete awesomeness of our God. I think it does this so well because most of the lyrics are actual scripture! As the title suggests, most of this scripture is found in the book of Revelation. What better portrays God’s awesomeness than the Word itself?

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end,”  says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still yet to come, the Almighty One.”

Revelation 4:3-5 “The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones-jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. And from the throne came flashes of lightening and the rumbles of thunder…”

Revelation 4:8  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty– the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Revelation 5:12-13 “And they sang in a mighty chorus: The Lamb is worthy-the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

 

 

The first time I heard this song, it was in a church I was visiting. It was being sung by my now, very good friend, Blair and her husband Danny. It’s very special to me because that song helped draw my husband back to church and ultimately to God. When he was drawn back to church, I was still very reluctant. I had experienced a deep hurt at our previous church, and I was still harboring anger about it. Thankfully, God softened my heart, and working through this song, brought me back to him.

It’s been years since that happened, and my husband is now my ex husband. This song still holds a very special place in my heart. It always reminds me of how God drew me back after all my anger and rebellion. My hope for others is that it will have the same effect. If there is one who is capable, it is the God who is worthy of all the praise expressed by this song.

The Lyrics

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is Thee
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You
Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be
To You the only one who’s King
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You
Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery
Oh, You’re worthy, mystery
You are worthy
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You
There are a lot of different artists who sing this song, but Kari Jobe is probably my favorite.
Activities, Parenting

Rainbow Flowers

RainbowFlowers

This week has been pretty busy. I had to finally embrace the whole “being thirty” thing, but it has been great thus far. Neyland and I did a lot of fun projects this week. She was a particularly good girl this week and worked really hard on all her homework, chores, and even memorized several scriptures from church. In return, we had a lot of fun outings and activities to reward her excellent work. For “Science Experiment Tuesday,” I pulled an old project out of my hat from when I was a kid. We decided to make rainbow flowers!

This experiment is one more geared toward preschoolers and older kids. The experiment isn’t instantaneous, and therefore won’t hold the attention of younger kiddos. Neyland is really into wanting to know how things work, so it was a great demonstration for her. We started off with a trip to Grandma’s flower shop to pick out the flowers for our experiment. The type of flower isn’t super important. We chose some daisy poms because they hold up well at room temp, and are overall, pretty resilient. Some of the more delicate flowers may wilt after a few hours. The big thing is to (obviously) get WHITE flowers so your little one can observe the color change.

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We also got three different stems of daisy poms. Each stem has multiple flowers, so we would get to see more action.

Next, pull out your food coloring and a few glasses of water. I let Neyland choose what colors we would make in each glass. It was also a good way to review which colors can be mixed to form other colors. She chose to make: Purple, Blue, and Green.

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We mixed up the colors, trimmed excess foliage off the stems, and then finally snipped the stems to freshen the ends. One trick to note is that the shorter you trim the stem, the faster the experiment will yield results. The colored water has a shorter distance to travel. Also, by getting rid of the excess foliage, you limit other areas for the colored water to be carried to. After cutting the stems and placing them in the water, we set them near the window.

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Within an hour or two we were already getting visible results! We used this to discuss how plants draw up water and use sunlight to make energy and grow! It was an exciting thing that she got to check on for the next few days. Our “blue” flowers yielded the best color. The green was very subtle and not easily noticeable.  The purple was very interesting. It yielded some purple spots, some red, and some blue. For whatever reason, the colors separated back out somewhat.

This is a super easy and cheap experiment to recreate at home! Even if you have never done it before as a kid. You probably have food coloring in your pantry, and you might even have some white flowers growing out in your yard! Get out there and have a great time with what you have!

Rainbow Flowers

Supplies

  • White flowers (that remain sturdy at room temp) – Rec. carnations, daisies, poms
  • Variety of food coloring
  • Glasses
  • water

Directions

Fill the glasses 3/4 full of water. Color each glass of water with a different color using the food coloring. Trim excess foliage from the flowers and snip the end of the stem before placing it in the water. (Snip the stem IMMEDIATELY before placing it in the water) Set the glasses in a sunny spot and monitor them periodically for changes. You can keep this experiment going for a few days! Just remember to trim the stems on your flowers fresh each day to maximize the amount of water they take in!

 

Activities, featured, Food

Sunday Sundaes

How is the weekend already over??? We had such an awesome weekend, it just doesn’t seem fair that tomorrow is already Monday. Well, here’s to starting this week off right!

This weekend, my friends and family were kind enough to throw me a surprise birthday party for the big 3-0. Thankfully, someone decided it was a good idea to tell me about it since they planned it at MY HOUSE. Pretty sure full blown panic would have set in if 20-30 people had just randomly shown up at my place on Saturday. It was a great time full of food and lots of laughs! Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated! (Unfortunately we were all having such a blast, we totally failed to take any pictures!)

This morning we enjoyed an absolutely fantastic church service! I love when service just “happens” to be on things that I’ve been studying privately! Our service today was on worship. We discussed the different examples of worship in the bible and the specific kinds of worship God specifically asks for! There are many terms for types of worship in Hebrew. It was really interesting and eye opening!

After service, we enjoyed a nice relaxing day out by the pool, followed by homework for Neyland, and most importantly…..the post homework treat! ICE CREAM!

We discussed taking a trip downtown to try the new Cruze Farm location…but as with most new places, IT WAS PACKED. We elected to give it a few more weeks to let the “newness” die down. We decided instead to visit one of my favorite ice cream spots of all time. It is also conveniently, right across the street.

Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain is everything you could possibly want with a super authentic “old time” feel. This place has a HUGE menu of sundaes, malts, floats, and seasonal specials. They make everything from scratch. All the toppings, whipped cream, you name it. All their ice cream is served in old fashioned glass dishes, and the staff even dresses in classic attire! The pharmacy is still in operation too! Bottom line: This place is the FULL experience. Amazing treats and a full authentic soda shop experience. Check out what we got this time!

 

Check out their website & menu HERE.

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Neyland’s Sidecar – Classic Sundae, only smaller for kids
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I had the “All American.” It was mixed berry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream!
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My brother had “The Great Smoky Mountains.” A fudge soaked vanilla cake  & a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, homemade brittle, and homemade caramel sauce!
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My Mom had the “Twixy.” Scoops of vanilla on top of homemade shortbread crumbles with milk chocolate & caramel drizzle.
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Neyland was happy to help finish off any leftovers.

We enjoyed a nice stroll through Market Square and Gay Street before calling it a night!

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If you’re into an authentic experience, don’t pass this place up! After all, Sundays are for Jesus and Sundaes!

 

 

Food

Birthday Breakfast

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If it hasn’t become extremely obvious by now, I thoroughly enjoy celebrating birthdays & holidays. I’m always looking for some reason to decorate or make someone feel special. I’m quite certain that I came by this trait honestly. My Grandmother is without a doubt the kindest most loving person you will ever know. She goes above and beyond even in small ways to make people feel special and loved. Ever since I was a little girl, (and even before my time I’m sure) she has had a tradition that has been passed down through the family. Enter: THE BIRTHDAY PLATE.

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That’s right. A big red birthday plate, gold silverware, & a special napkin. It makes an appearance for everyone’s birthday and makes you feel super special. I’m really thankful that my Aunt got me a set a few years back, and now I can carry on the same tradition!

You may be wondering why “The plate” was out today…. In less than 1 week I will be celebrating the death of my twenties. o_0  Everyone says your thirties are better, and I’m ready to find out! Since Thursdays are spent with my Grandma, I got the birthday plate today along with a DELICIOUS breakfast! My Grandma’s #1 favorite past time is to spoil those she loves with food. I’m sure glad to be one of those lucky people! The recipe she made today is one of my favorites. My Aunt discovered it a few years back at a restaurant in California.

Lemon pancakes are seriously the perfect pancake. I used to be anti-lemon when it came to baked goods & sweets, but my tastes have changed considerably. These things are absolutely amazing. The tart lemon cuts through the sweetness of the pancake and just makes this breakfast so refreshing. I have never encountered a pancake that goes so well with so many topping options. These guys don’t even need syrup. They are fantastic by themselves with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar! You can cover them with a variety of fruit. My Grandma had fresh peaches, strawberries, and raspberries as options today. All were absolutely fantastic. I’m sure they would be great with blueberries and blackberries. We discussed making fresh lemon whipped cream for them….the possibilities are endless.

If you’re tired of the same old pancakes, give these guys a try. You WON’T be disappointed!

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Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose white wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir quickly. The batter will be thick and bubbly. Use 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, and pour onto hot skillet. Cook until each side is golden brown. Serve with honey, syrup, powdered sugar, etc.

Activities, featured, Parenting

Ice Age Rescue

Most parents would agree that having a routine is really vital for kids. Yes kids are resilient, but they truly thrive when they have a routine. They know what to expect and what is expected of them. I try my best to keep a fairly basic routine with my little one on both a daily and weekly basis. As I mentioned last week, the two of us spend Tuesdays together. I do a lot of housework, but I always make sure we squeeze in some fun activities, and cook dinner together. One of the fun activities that I have had as part of our routine for well over a year now, is SCIENCE EXPERIMENT TUESDAY! I’m a science nerd at heart, and certainly want Neyland to enjoy it too! Science Experiment Tuesday allows both of us to do a fun activity that also has educational value. I have a blast researching and preparing, we both love actually doing the experiment, and then I try to tie it in to some other learning opportunities throughout the week to reinforce the idea.

Finding fun experiments to do with your kiddos isn’t a difficult task. A quick internet search, or even just thinking about some of the activities that stood out from your childhood can yield great results.

This particular experiment is super simple, but a LOT of fun. It’s great for toddlers and preschoolers, and even elementary school kids. There are a lot of learning opportunities for different age groups.

Ice Age Rescue

Supplies

  • Water safe/freezer safe container (Decent size)
  • A bunch of cheap/plastic/water safe toys (you likely have plenty laying around the house)
  • Water
  • Blue Food coloring
  • Plastic utensils
  • Squirt bottle
  • Salt
  • Sponges

The basic idea for this project is to fill the water safe/freezer safe container (I found a random plastic storage box at Goodwill) with water (about 3/4 full.) Add a few drops of blue food coloring and mix. Don’t skip that step, it really does add to the effect. Place a variety of different plastic toys in the colored water. It helps them spread out evenly if some sink and some float. This is a great time to let your little one see the water and touch it. Explain to them the differences between liquids and solids. Let them see you/help you place the container into the freezer. Check on it every hour or so. It’s important to let them feel how cold it’s getting and feel the ice start to form. Eventually (depending on the size of your container,) you will have a solid chunk of ice FULL of plastic critters that need your little one’s help to break free!

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At this point we moved our project to the bath tub to contain the imminent watery mess. I freed the giant cube from the plastic container and offered Neyland several options/tools to try and free the animals. I offered plastic eating utensils for her to chip away at the ice, sponges, salt, and a squirt bottle of warm water. We tried each item individually so that we could observe what effect it had on the ice.

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After trying each tool, I let her decide which item she thought was most effective. She quickly decided that the warm water squirt bottle was the best option! As the ice melted, it was really beautiful. The warm water carved out all kind of cool little passages through the ice, and made breaking the critters free even more fun.

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*As a side note- Not long after I first did this, a friend of mine tried it with her son. She added another educational aspect by waiting until winter and allowing the block to freeze outside over several days! Her son really enjoyed checking on it each day, and it was great to connect the actual weather outside with the experiment!*

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This is seriously simple and seriously fun. It’s a great sensory activity for toddlers and learning activities for preschoolers. You can teach each child as much or as little as they are capable of absorbing for their age. I guarantee they will be asking to do it again!

featured, Food

Why Korean food is everything missing from your life

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Whew! The last two weeks have been busy ones! Unfortunately, my little one has been away for the past week, so I made it a point to keep myself very busy. I am lucky enough to have many fantastic friends who were kind enough to occupy my free time. One such friend, who shall be known on my blog as “Raul,” is my general cooking buddy and partner for all things food related. Raul has greatly broadened my horizons since we became friends. I really have to give him major props in the cooking department. He busts out recipes that most people wouldn’t even attempt.

Some time back in the fall, he made me aware of a “life changing” Korean chicken recipe that he had recently made. Raul was kind enough to make a batch for me, AND share the recipe with me! I have made this chicken a few times since then, and it does NOT disappoint. I will go ahead and warn you that it is a bit spicy. If you don’t like heat, this may not be for you. It has spice, sweetness, some tang, everything a good sauce needs in my humble opinion. This is a great sauce to make and add to store bought fried chicken. In fact, every time we’ve made it, we’ve added it to Bojangles fried chicken. I will say that the surface area to sauce ratio is VITAL. I would definitely recommend smaller pieces of chicken/ dark meat to make sure you get adequate sauce in each bite. Legs & thighs are my favorites for this recipe. If you want to be super fancy and make your own fried chicken, that would work well too! Just make sure to get adequate breading for the sauce to stick on. I love this chicken recipe SO much, that I now affectionately refer to it as PDC. No explanations on that name, but bonus points if you figure it out!

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Spicy Korean Chicken

Ingredients

  • Appoximately 8 pieces of fried chicken
  • 1 Tbsp Canola oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/3 cup Karo syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot pepper paste (Gochujang)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Sesame seeds

Put the oil & garlic in a small sauce pan on low and allow it to heat up a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk lightly to mix them all together. Allow the sauce to heat on low for 7-8 minutes. Make sure to keep the heat low, so it doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat. Place the fried chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. Toss the chicken gently until covered. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!

 

The other Korean treat we enjoyed with our chicken was a Kimchi Pancake. Would you believe that before last year, I had never had kimchi? I didn’t even know what it was! As I mentioned, Raul has been a culinary gold mine! If you are in the same sad boat I was once in, and you have no clue what I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you. Kimchi is a delicious spicy fermented cabbage. You can find it in most markets in the refrigerated vegetarian/vegan section. Because it is fermented, it contains bacteria that can be beneficial to your gut health. Delicious AND health benefits??? SIGN. ME. UP. I use kimchi all the time now. It is super tasty, and kicks up any number of dishes.

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Enter the Kimchi Pancake. I love when foods take a turn from the way we traditionally consume them. When you think of a pancake, you likely get images of fluffy syrup covered breakfast items. This is a crispy and savory 180 degree change from the pancakes you know and love. In many Eastern cultures, pancakes include any number of ingredients that are pan fried and served as a side dish. You may never look at pancakes the same way again. Before embarking on your new pancake adventure, I would recommend making a dipping sauce. Raul was a bit reluctant to fully disclose the exact ratios of dipping sauce ingredients, but this should be fairly close.

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup good soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-3 scallions, minced
  • Splash of sesame oil
  • A few shakes of sesame seeds
  • A squirt of Sri racha

Mix well and set aside.

Kimchi Pancake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped Kimchi
  • 3 Tbsp kimchi juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Onion
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Flour (all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Vegetable Oil

Directions

In a bowl, place chopped Kimchi, kimchi juice, chopped onion, salt, sugar, flour, and water. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Heat up a 12 inch non stick pan over medium/high heat. Drizzle in about 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Spread the kimchi batter out evenly in the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Cook it for 1 to 1.5 minutes. Until the bottom gets golden brown and crispy. Turn it over with a spatula or flip it. (Raul did this, and it looked pretty cool.) Lower the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 1.5 minutes. Turn it once more, and cook for ~30 seconds, before transferring to a plate for serving. Cut into bite sized pieces. Use chopsticks to pull apart pieces and dip. Serve hot.

 

Recipe cred to Maangchi (Be sure to check out more of her awesome recipes!)

Well, there you have it! All the tools you need for an awesome evening of Korean deliciousness! These recipes are packed with flavor, and will fill a culinary void you never knew you had! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

If you try these recipes, let me know what you think!

 

Food, Informational

I Love Pho! Pho Sho!

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So I had my very first Pho experience recently! I am a huge lover of any kind of broth + noodle dish, and I’ve always wanted to try pho, but haven’t really been certain where to go for an authentic experience. I had a few places that were recommended to me numerous times. The two restaurants that stood out were: Sticky Rice Cafe and Bida Saigon.

Sticky Rice Cafe is Laotian cuisine. It was pointed out to me, that pho is actually a Vietnamese dish. The reviews led me to go ahead and give it a try. I was NOT disappointed! I tried the seafood pho, with shrimp and squid. The aromatics were fantastic and the broth was SO GOOD. I had no other experiences to compare to at that point, but I could certainly enjoy pho on the regular based off this experience alone!

The staff was fantastic and very helpful. I even heard several customers rave about the cooks preparing special “off menu” items when requested. The only negative is that there simply isn’t a lot of seating at this place. You could have a pretty decent wait time if you go during peak meal hours.

My dinner companion was VERY much into eating authentic exotic cuisines, and did a fair amount of research on Laotian food before our visit. Not only did he order a traditional Laotian dish, but he ordered it completely RAW! His reading indicated that this was the way all the natives eat this dish. The waitress asked numerous times if he was certain that he didn’t want the beef cooked. All the workers seemed pretty impressed that he ate the dish the way that they did! We also shared an order of fried chicken skins, which were AMAZING! I would highly recommend them as an appetizer if you visit. Pictured below is the plate of Beef Laab along with one their adorable little steamer baskets of sticky rice.

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Beef Laab with Sticky Rice

Check out their Menu Here – Sticky Rice

Not long after trying Sticky Rice Cafe, I tried out my second bowl of pho. This time I tried out another reputable place that also came very highly recommended. This place is indeed Vietnamese, so I was “fully authentic” this time around. Bida Saigon is located in West Knoxville, and certainly worth a visit! My Mom and I tried this place on Sunday after church. Our visit was my Mom’s first pho experience! This time I tried the Pho Tai, which is basically delicious broth with rice noodles, thin slices of rare beef, and aromatics. I was a bit more adventurous this time, and added a decent amount of spicy pepper paste and fresh jalapenos. It was AMAZING.

*Bida Saigon doesn’t have a website, but you can check them out on Facebook*

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My Mom tried the Pho Ga, which is the same base, but with chicken as the protein. Her pho was very mild, but full of flavor. I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle differences in the pho from both restaurants, and would absolutely recommend them both! We also shared some fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce that were a great appetizer!

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It’s safe to say that I’m pretty obsessed with this dish now, and will be on the lookout for more opportunities to try more pho! Where is your “go to” spot for pho?

 

 

 

Activities, bigfoot, featured, Trips

The Great Outdoors

Neyland and I were fortunate enough to meet up with an amazing group of ladies for a little get away this past weekend! A short trip away was just what the doctor ordered!

It is so easy to forget the beauty of the mountains when we live in this amazing area, and the mountains are our back yard. I realize that I often drive around and overlook them completely even though I adore them!

As I have mentioned previously, I do a bit of bigfoot reseach in my spare time. I have made some of the most amazing friends that share my passion for nature and mysteries. We have just “clicked” ever since we first met. It is a rare thing to find friends with whom you can truly just be yourself. I have laughed with  these ladies, cried with them, traveled with them, camped with them, tick checked them, had midnight forest raves with them, eaten an unhealthy amount of cinnamon rolls atop a mountain at 3am with them, and much much more. I believe it suffices to say that we have a great history together with fantastic memories doing what we love to do. It seems that all of us have walked some deep valleys over the past few years, and have been unable to get together as often as we would have liked. This weekend we were thrilled to not only have a reunion of the “beaver squad,” as we often call ourselves, but to bring our two newest members along for initiation! We decided that since the two little ones were so small, we would stick to a cabin this time rather than though it out in tents.

Neyland and I were the last to arrive Friday evening. A quick game of “being shy” lasted all of 5 minutes, and the girls quickly became best buddies. It was so great to see all my favorite ladies! We enjoyed dinner and a dip in the hot tub out on our amazing deck. Check out that view!

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After a quick bath and a ton of play time, the little ones were off to bed. We enjoyed catching up for a few more hours before a wonderful night’s sleep. The AC was certainly more pleasant than the 90 degree temps outside!

In the morning, true to form, Ronie was up making enough food to feed an army.

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Breakfast tacos and hashbrowns….and lots of coffee!

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We got the girls dressed, packed up a picnic lunch, and headed up to our favorite spot on the mountain. An area affectionately known as “camp scream.” As it’s name suggests, we’ve had some pretty exciting sasquatch activity there in the past. It is WELL away from where most people go, and we’d certainly like to keep it that way. We were surprised to see that the camp area we had used in the past, was almost completely covered in fallen trees. Thankfully, we were still able to hike back and let the girls play in the creek for a bit. They had a blast clacking rocks and playing in the water.

 

We then had our picnic lunch and hiked for about 2 miles. The girls did great & had so much fun! Check out the video of them practicing their squatch calls!

 

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Perhaps we were even interesting to some forest spectators, as we did hear a few interesting sounds on our hike!

We continued to another location where the girls could play in the creek again. We were able to catch some salamanders and crawdads, and even saw some rainbow trout.

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On the way back to the cabin, we stopped at our favorite spot for ice cream. The picnic tables where we were eating were right by the water. We got to watch a few guys fly fishing, and even got to see an osprey! Between the guys and the osprey, only one was successful catching a fish. Hint: it was not the humans.

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When we returned Ronie cooked ANOTHER delicious meal complete with her famous homemade doughnuts for dessert!

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The master at work!

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We ended the day out on the deck DESTROYING these little jewels. The girls were COVERED in sugar. We were fortunate enough to hear an owl, and attempted to call back. Our owl calls quickly escalated into tiny squatch calls again. I’m quite certain the neighbors thought we were insane. These are the things that memories are made of.

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We said our goodbyes Sunday afternoon, and the drive home was bittersweet. It got me thinking about how I’m so thankful to share this life with such amazing people. Every day is an adventure if you chose to make it so.<3

 

Activities, Parenting

Blackberry Summers

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When I was a little girl, I spent a great deal of time with my Grandparents. Every summer, they always planted a huge garden, with two big rows of blackberry bushes at the very back of the field, closest to the woods. There was nothing growing in that garden that I looked forward to more than those huge plump berries. Each morning, before the heat was unbearable, my best friend and I would grab our buckets, and head out to collect our loot. She wasn’t quite as fond of the blackberries as I was. Her bucket would actually come back with berries in it, while mine…..Well, it was usually empty. Sometimes I would have to make the difficult decision: Do I eat them now, or save them so Grandma can make a blackberry cobbler? She DOES make the BEST cobbler ever.

Over the years, the work of the garden became too much for my Grandparents, and eventually it became only a memory. All that remains today is the lonely berry patch. I’m thankful for this small piece of my childhood to share with my daughter. If there is one thing that I’ve enjoyed most about parenting, it is sharing the things with her that were most important to me. You think that the joy you experienced back then simply can’t get better, but it can. When you see the joy on your child’s face, the magic simply multiples.

Every Thursday, we spend the day with my Grandparents. They were/are such a big part of my life, and I am so thankful that Neyland has the opportunity to know them. My Grandma cooks breakfast, the kind of breakfast only a Grandma CAN make. I’m still convinced that there is something magical about her kitchen. The food ALWAYS tastes better when she makes it. After breakfast this past week, I asked Grandma how the berries were coming along. She indicated that there may be some ready to pick. I quickly showed Neyland where to find a bucket to put our berries, and out we went. She was so incredibly excited. Of course she was intent on gathering more berries than I could, which I’m sure she did. Only problem? There were none in her bucket by the time we got back to the house! It’s funny the way life repeats itself. It amazes me how many things she does naturally that are just like me. I know the memories will be just as sweet for her, and that she can share this tradition with her daughter some day.

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Activities, featured, Food, Parenting

Princess Dinners

Tuesdays are generally “Mommy + Daughter Days” at our house. We only have one routine commitment, and the rest of the day we spend together. I generally use this time to catch up on housework that I can keep going while playing with my little one. I also do my best to keep a basic routine that she can look forward to. Each Tuesday she can look forward to Science Experiment Tuesday and it is also a night that we try to make dinner together. I want Neyland to enjoy cooking as much as I do, and to be independent and able to cook for herself in the future. She certainly already has the independence part down. She is constantly wanting to help me do the parts of the cooking that still aren’t safe for kiddos her age. To try and help bridge the gap between what she can and can’t help with, I got her some fun kitchen items for her birthday!

First, I purchased her a set of kid safe plastic kitchen knives. I was kind of skeptical about how much they would actually cut, and if they would really be useful. The price was pretty low, so I figured we would give them a try.

You can check out the set I got here.

Before I gave them to her, I ran them back and forth across my hand to see if they were, in fact, skin safe. No issues there at all. Neyland proceeded to try them on several different foods, and they worked great! I even used them a few times tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess my only gripe is that the 5 colored knives are exactly the same thing, just different colors. I thought perhaps they would have slight differences, but they don’t. I guess I can use the different colors to help teach her food prep safety?

Needless to say, she felt like a pretty big deal getting to use a knife like a big girl. She cut up butter, ham, and some veggies.

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I also purchased her a Princess Cook book. I loved the idea that the recipes were simple, and that each recipe is attached to one of the Disney princesses. She was STOKED to flip through the pages and pick  which recipes SHE wanted to make. I can tell that she will be more willing to try these recipes, simply because they are tied to a princess. If it gets her to branch out and try new things….I’m ALL FOR IT.

Check out the Cookbook here!

Tonight she chose to make Rapunzel’s Ham & Cheese Biscuit Braids. She helped me from start to finish. She did have a bit of trouble braiding the dough, but who wouldn’t? I found them to be a bit bland for my tastes. Solution: Cover in mustard. Yellow mustard works well for Rapunzel’s magic golden hair anyway, Right??? Lol.

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We ate our Princess dinner, watched Tangled (obviously,) and even ended our night with a surprise visit from a prince disguised as a frog. 😉

God certainly has a sense of humor when he graces us with his creation.

A hysterical game of Twister before bed, was the end to another lovely Mommy + Daughter day. Check out the recipe below to make Rapunzel’s Ham & Cheese Biscuit Braids with your little ones!

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Ham and Cheese Biscuit Braids: 

(From The Disney Princess Cookbook)
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp cold butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup milk

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Use your fingertips to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until the bits are the size of peas.
Stir in ham and cheese.
Add milk and work the mixture with your hands until it starts to look like dough.
Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board or counter and place the dough on top. Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough to keep it from sticking. I also floured my rolling pin.
With your rolling pin, flatten the dough into a 12 inch square. The dough should be between a 1/4 and a 1/2 an inch thick.
Slice the squares into quarters, and then slice each quarter into 12 strips, each about 6 inches long.
Braid the dough like you would braid hair – gather 3 strips and pinch them together at the top. Take the right section and cross it over the center section so they switch places. Then, take the left section and cross it over the center section. Keep going until the whole strip is braided.
Pinch the strands together at the bottom.
Repeat until all the strips are braided.
Place each braid on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
*They don’t really turn as golden brown as you’d expect, so check the bottom after about 10 minutes.