cooking (25) crafts (10) Fitness (1) gardening (3) Home Organization (10) kids (68) school (9) sewing (28)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


To see the whole blog entry and more pictures, click on the title of the entry (for instance, Thanksgiving).

My inlaws drove down from PA to spend a week with us over Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely visit.  The kids and grandparents adore each other.  It is quite sad that they don't see each other more often, but I am thankful for internet technology.
Jack and his turkey leg
Carving my brined bird

I did most of the cooking the day before, so Thanksgiving day was relatively laid back.  I made a brined turkey, a sausage/corn bread/french bread stuffing, mashed potato/turnip/rutabega smash, sweet potatoes, creamed onions, green beans, and cranberry sauce.  It was delicious!  Ann made a yummy apple pie with apples from my grandparent's trees and it, too was great.

Baked Oatmeal

My new breakfast obsession is baked oatmeal.  First I made an apple baked oatmeal.  I diced up an apple and sauteed it in a little butter and seasoned it with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Then I added the cooked apples to 2 cups of oats, a handful of brown sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1 cup of milk (or you could use water).  I baked it at 380 degrees for 20 minutes.

Today I made a pumpkin oatmeal.  I used 1 c oats, 1 c pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and 1 cup of water.  And cooked the same same as the apple oatmeal.

 Best of all--the kids love it too!  What a great way to start a chilly morning.

Laura Plantation

Just before Thanksgiving, we toured Laura Plantation with our homeschool group.  We toured another plantation last year, but this one was much more educational.  However, I was tending to Audrey and Ayden so I had a hard time focusing on the guide, so my summary will be spotty.

This is the main house.  It is  built in Creole fashion.  The houses were one story, and painted in these colors to let passers by know that french people lived here.  When they say something is "creole," they are saying that it is a mix of French, Caribbean, and African.
Our tour started in the basement of the house, where we learned about the family business.  Laura was a tenacious young woman who took over the business instead of her brother.  She married a Frenchman whose family had a winery in France, so the basement of the house came to be a distribution center of French wine.

I didn't take any pictures inside, but one interesting point was that Laura's office was in her bedroom.  When men came to conduct business, they had to go in her bedroom.  This caused (of course) a little American uproar.  Eventually, Laura allowed the side porch to be closed in and converted into her office, but she still required the men to pass through her bedroom to get to her office.  I found that quite interesting given the time period--her tenacity, strength and determination to not allow people to push her around.  
That dirt in front of those buildings used to be the kitchen.  It was a large two-story building.  They had to prepare a lot of food (I think it was for like 300 people), for the family members and slaves.

At one point, the home had two wings added on to either side.  They were destroyed in a fire, but they have left the foundation so you can see how big the house was at one point.  They will not rebuild them because it wasn't part of the original house.  The main house did not burn because of the brick construction.

There was a mini forest of these banana trees.

There are 2 slave homes left standing.  This road used to be 3 miles long, with houses lining the entire path.  Each home had a garden outside so that they could provide some food for themselves.  The plantation owners only provided breakfast and lunch for the slaves, so they made dinner for themselves with ingredient that they grew.

The dinner bell
This bell was rung at breakfast and lunch, to tell the slaves that the meal was ready.  One person from each home had to come to the kitchen to pick up the meal for the rest of the household.  I'd hate to live at the end of the 3 mile long road of houses!

This is how Jack is with every outing.  Right with the tour guide, asking questions.  That's my boy!

Once Laura retired from running the plantation, she had another house built on the property.  Evidently, she never truly retired.  They said she sat on the balcony (which deteriorated), and watched the slaves work all day with her binoculars. 

The little ones really enjoyed themselves!  This little boy's name is Jacob.  Audrey was always a couple steps ahead of him and saying "Come on Jacob!" 

Some other interesting info:  Fats Domino was born here.  The Br'er Rabbit stories were written here.  I also learned that slaves in Louisiana were actually allowed to retire at a certain point.  Basically, you were assigned a number relative to your age (a high number with a young age).  Each year, your number decreased.  When your number became 0, you were allowed to retire.  You could still live on the plantation, be clothed and fed, but didn't have to work.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Audrey Cleans Up

This is how Audrey cleans up.  She makes a mess and then sings a song to help her brothers clean. It is kind of hard to hear her singing until the end of it thanks to Ayden and Jack.  And yes, this is what my house normally sounds like!

Field Trips and Homeschool Group Experiences

 Every month, we have an evening homeschool meeting.  There is usually an educational activity or public speaking activity planned for the kids.  During the October meeting, the kids did a Pumpkin Science activity.  They each brought a pumpkin so that they could predict the number of seeds in their pumpkin, count the seeds, examine the size of the seeds, compare the size and number of seeds in larger pumpkins vs smaller pumpkins.  They also learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin.

 Next, the Audubon Association's Aquavan came to our weekly PE class and did a presentation on wetlands.  The kids learned about turtles, snakes, spiders and insects.  They even get to touch some of the animals.  I like these activities because it teaches Jack to raise his hand.

Our most recent field trip was to the park down the street from our home.  This was a nice follow up to the aquavan presentation on wetlands.  Jack learned how to dipnet.  They worked with a ranger to identify common swamp insects.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Love

Some people have asked for some of my "recipes."  Maybe I will try and post some of my new creations. Nothing is truly original, I get all sorts of ideas from other blogs, cookbooks, and of course cooking shows.  So. . . right now, I am loving pumpkin.

First I made Pumpkin Spiced Coffee.  This was based off of a recipe that someone else posted on Facebook.
1- Brew some strong coffee, with pumpkin spices in your filter basket.  I like to make my own combo, and I don't measure, I just put in what smells good.  I used cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger.  Probably about a teaspoon of cinnamon and allspice and half teaspoon of nutmeg and ginger.
2- Fill your mug about 1/4 of the way with milk (or if you are feeling naughty, half and half) and warm it in the microwave.  Add about a teaspoon of vanilla, and sweetener of your choice to taste.  I used agave or brown sugar.  I don't like sweet coffee, so I used about 1/2 tablespoon.
3- Pour in your coffee and enjoy!

Then I made Pumpkin pancakes, which was another idea from a facebook friend.  Just make pancakes like you normally would.  Instead of adding oil, use pumpkin.  One of my recipes didn't call for oil, and I just added pumpkin to the batter and it turned out fine.  I also add my own mix of pumpkin spices like above.

Lastly, I made a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, which I borrowed from the Pioneer Woman.
1- Freeze a cup of pumpkin puree.
2- In blender, combine 1 cup of vanilla yogurt (I love greek), 1 cup frozen pumpkin puree, those magic pumpkin pie spices, and milk to your liking.  If you like the smoothie thick, don't use a lot....
3- Pour into glasses and top with some crushed graham crackers.  Yum!

The Birds

At the beginning of the summer, the kids and I went to the aquarium with some friends. The highlight of the trip was the paraqueets.  I have no idea how to spell that!!!  You can feed them, and as you can see, all of the kids loved it.
Audrey with little Jack, and "Chief."  AKA, Jack's Daddo

Please ignore my hat, I put it on to keep from getting pooped on.  Ayden was even intrigued by the birds.

Update On My Craft Obsessions

 I wanted to make Jack a desk that was just the right height so that he would have his feet on the floor for good handwriting.  Somehow I came up with this idea.  4 crates, one piece of plywood and some chalkboard cloth and we have the perfect solution for desk and storage.

 I have a filing cabinet and plastic drawer unit in our bedroom.  They aren't pretty, so I decided to make covers to make them more girly.  The flap on the front lifts up so that I still have easy access to the drawers.

 My newest obsession is acrylic painting.  I took two classes at the Painting with a Twist.  If you have never heard of them, they are a place where you bring your own alcohol and paint under the instruction of an artist.  This was my second painting, a cherry tree in the moonlight.  My first painting was one of those wacky New Orleans shotgun houses. I quickly learned why the paintings don't have straight lines, because it is difficult to paint straight when you are tipsy :o)

 This one I did at home.  I think I need to make the little jazz man's jacket a little bigger/more rounded in the back.
 This one I also did at home.  It is the Philly skyline painted like a sunset and the Benjamin Franklin bridge.  I need to paint the sky but am scared to screw up what I have done so far.  I am going to go with a sunset look, with pink in the low horizon, fading to blues and grey in the higher part of the sky.

 I made a new wreath for my front door.  When you live in the south, you don't get any fall color, so you have to manufacture it.  I also put fake fall leaves in my bushes that flank my front door.  It's kind of a hilarious ghetto fabulous look, and it cracks me up.

And last but not least, I painted this on Saturday.  We held a painting fundraiser in our community, and this is what we painted.

A Bad Blogger

So, I refused to join Facebook for the longest time.  Something within me cracked when my mother left me and went to Canada. I reluctantly joined Facebook, and my blog has definitely suffered for it.  The ease of quickly uploading a quick picture has made me have even less urgency in updating my blog.  And I know that many of you don't use Facebook, so you have had no updates from me.  Facebook is less personal too.  You get just quick glimpses into our events, and if you have a gazillion friends, you probably won't even see my quick pictures, as they get buried in your newsfeed.  I like my blog.  I like rambling on and on; keeping a journal of sorts.  I sometimes imagine I am witty like the Pioneer Woman.  :o)  So, once again, I am vowing to keep my blog going.  If you haven't noticed already, you can subscribe to my blog updates.  This means that you will get an email when I update, so you don't have to randomly check the blog to see if I have posted anything.

Thanks for following our adventures!

Riding in a friend's John Deere
 Jack and Audrey had a blast in this little tractor, I think it was a little gator.  Man this thing really went fast for a kids toy, and it went up and down rough terrain.  I love having friends with different toys for their kids--we don't have to find the space to keep it!  We just have play dates and take over their toys.
Big Boy- First time in a cart
 Another friend offered to watch Audrey and Jack for me for a couple hours so I could have some "quiet time" (aka- time to clean the house without them destroying it in 2 seconds).  My end of the deal was to go to Walgreen's and buy her toilet paper and hairspray.  This was the first time I went to the store without Audrey, so Ayden got to sit in the cart instead of the wrap.  He had soo much fun.  He was laughing the whole time.  He is 8 1/2 months old now.

Such Fashion Sense!
If you could only see the rest of this get-up.  She chooses her own clothes most days and will have a down right fit if you choose something she doesn't like.  She is wearing a cloth diaper and a pair of costume thigh highs.  What you can't see, is that she is also wearing Jack's camo slippers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little Sister Gets Married

We recently traveled to PA again.  This time for my sister's wedding.  I took my camera with all intentions of filling my memory card.  Well, I was so busy that that didn't really happen.  Luckily, Becky's photographer has put some pictures on her blog!  Check out her pics here!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Wedding Outfit For Ayden

I recently read another blogger's post about this adorable outfit. I was in need of an outfit for my sister's wedding, and this will fit the bill nicely. Unfortunately, my model wasn't cooperating so it is hard to see the detail.  The tie is appliqued onto the onesie, it is from a shirt that doesn't fit me anymore. The shorts and vest are made from a shirt that I bought this morning specifically for this project. I used the before mentioned bloggers pictures for inspiration, but I sketched my own pattern.

I even have little button tabs on the sides of the shorts.