Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Bird by GroovyGirl

On New years one of my plans was to buy a bird. I was able to get one that same day! My brother and I had already picked out the name Kiki (named after the bird in the Enid Blyton children's book series). As you can see from the pictures, Kiki is a cinnamon opaline violet parakeet. Kiki was unusual because he became tame the first day I had him.

Now he is incredibly tame for a parakeet, letting me pet him on his back. But he is young. I am not sure of his exact age but I know he is under 3 months old (a bar head). I am hoping to teach Kiki how to talk and do tricks soon. Kiki is pretty quiet, but some times he squawks to get attention. He is crazy about millet spray. So far Kiki has been a delightful pet and he is very friendly.


For some reason I did not take any "formal" Christmas Day (or even Christmas week) photos of the children. There are a few pictures of them opening their stockings and presents but nothing with them all Christmas-fied...

But here are some photos from the week of Christmas.

One tradition we try to follow each year is to spend an evening looking at Christmas lights and then go to DQ for a Blizzard. We reversed things this time and had a Blizzard first (the DQ has a fireplace so we enjoyed sitting directly in front of it) and then went looking at lights. Usually we do the lights and Blizzards on Christmas Eve but since we were going to be at the farm on Christmas Eve – we decided to do it all the Wed. before Christmas.

One of our favorite light displays is Dan’s Emerald Forest. His front yard is completely landscaped with a train scene…he hands out candy to the kids and on the weekends (which we missed out on this time) there is hot apple cider and hot cocoa.

We headed up to the farm Thursday afternoon. That turned out to be a great idea since there was a lot of snow that fell in the wee hours of Friday morning. When we looked out the window in the morning – the farm was covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow!

One of the first things on the mind of the children was to go play in the snow! The snow was of the perfect variety for making snowballs and snowmen. The kids and mom first went sledding out in the cow pasture. Going down was fun – climbing up wasn’t so much…but the exercise was good for those of us (well one of us) that needed to burn off some Christmas Holiday calories.

Of course everything didn't look so pure and white after the top layer of snow was lifted!

After our sledding adventure – the kids played outside for about another hour and a half! Even though it was snowy – the temperature was mild. They came in soaked but happy!

A Little Catch Up

Well as usual I'm behind on my posting - but better late than never...if I don't post some photos of the kids now they won't be recognized by their Canadian kin when we visit this summer.

The girl wearing her father's farm coveralls as the snow arrived before I purchased her a new pair of ski pants.

These are a couple of photos from our first "real" snow. Maybe just a smattering of snow by Manitoba standards - but enough snow for the kids to have fun in.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cookie Decorating Party

A couple of weeks ago we had our annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. I think this was our 5th year.

Along with decorating regular sized gingerbread and sugar cookies - for the past few years I've also made a GIANT cookie for each child to decorate. One year it was a giant gingerbread person, the next year it was a giant Christmas tree and this year it was a giant rectangle. Rectangle??

The girl came up with the idea months ago. What if we were to make cookie sheet pan sized cookies that we could "draw" on - kind of like a large sheet of paper? It sounded a bit odd to me but decided to give it a try.

A week or so before the party I did a trial run on the gingerbread cookie recipe I had, to make sure that it would bake OK in the pan and not fall apart when I took it out. It worked fine - but I still decided to make some foil covered, cardboard "trays" to place under the giant cookies as they were being decorated and moved around - so as to avoid any disaster.

The boy's goal was to just get as much candy on his "paper" as possible - thereby creating some edible abstract art (shall we say).

The girl designed a scene with a house and snow.

The kids and I have already talked about ideas for the GIANT cookie next's a bit too soon to make that decision - but I'm open to ideas - any suggestions???

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Addition to the Menagerie

Here is an addition to the girl's menagerie.

Samson was found over Thanksgiving weekend.

The girl (and her dad) believe it to be a garter snake...I'm hoping they are right!

He was named Samson b/c of his strength :)

He arrived just in time as the menagerie has been thinned out a bit with the recent demise of the three bullfrog tadpoles found back in August :(

I'm sure the girl would LOVE a visit to this place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Judging a Recipe by Its Magazine Photo is Like Judging a Book by Its Cover

A month or so ago I saw a recipe for a delicious looking "tart" in a Martha Stewart magazine.

The recipe looked complicated (to me) and included lots of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, whipping cream, chocolate, and peanut butter... and even an ingredient I had never tried before - creme fraiche ("Crème fraiche is a delicious, thinner form of sour cream first developed by the French. It has a slight hold and tanginess because it contains bacterial cultures. But the amounts of cultures are minimal as compared to those in sour cream. Crème fraiche can be used as a topping, in sauces, or in a variety of other applications, and many prefer it to the standard and more commonly available sour cream because of its creamy texture.")

But it looked absolutely wonderful! I can't pass up a combination of caramel and chocolate. It reminded me of a ramped up version of Peanut Butter Pie (a family favorite).

I put away the magazine but came across it again last week. And this time I decided that I was going to try and make it.

I easily found the creme fraiche at Trader Joe's but could not find the chocolate wafers - so I ended up using a pre-made Oreo-crust pie pan. Other than that I pretty much followed the recipe - even using heavy cream for the mousse and full-fat cream cheese (usually on the Peanut Butter Pie I use fat-free Cool Whip and reduced fat cream cheese).

This afternoon the girl and I put together Martha's Peanut, Caramel and Chocolate Tart. It was pretty simple - but I don't really like recipes with multiple steps.

Now the tart (I'd call it a pie) is still in the fridge cooling - but of course I had to have a taste and you know what? I don't really care for it :( I tend to think something is going to be wonderful when the name Martha Stewart is attached to it...but I think next time I'll just stick to Aunt Jackie's Peanut Butter Pie.

Sometimes simpler is better.

Now if I was to try this recipe again, these are the changes I would make:

- I'd use Aldi caramel sauce rather than make it - I did not like the sourness that the creme fraiche added (and either add zero peanuts or break the peanuts into small bits)
-I'd use my traditional Peanut Butter Pie filling for the mousse
-I'd use milk chocolate in the chocolate ganache rather than semi-sweet

I guess I'll have to see if the rest of the family likes it or not...

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Cautionary Tale - Why You Should Never Stick Your Hand in a Hole

This afternoon the weather was too beautiful to stay indoors, so after lunch I took the kids out to the park.

This is a park that has a large lake that the kids enjoy wading in and trails we enjoy walking on.

We crossed a bridge and walked along the sandy beach trying to catch frogs - well the girl was. On the way back over the bridge we headed on down to the water under the bridge. There is a trail through the woods next to the water and as we were passing we heard a funny noise.

The girl thought it was a frog but to me it sounded like the cry of a kitten. She could hear the sound coming from the edge of the water under some tangled vines under the turf that was overhanging the water (if that makes sense). She looked under the vines into a hole and saw a frog.

"It's a huge bullfrog!" "I think he is stuck." She put her hand in and tried to gently coax him out of the hole but couldn't see too well and she was worried she might hurt him.

"Are you sure it's a frog?" I said, feeling a bit wary. "Yes it's a frog!" she relied rather exasperatedly (b/c of course she knows what a frog looks like). The boy agreed as he also got a glimpse of it.

The girl used an empty plastic cup to try and scoop him out of the hole with. After awhile with no success, and wanting to continue our walk, I said "Just use your hands." But as I said she didn't want to hurt him and since his leg was stuck on a branch or something she didn't want to pull and end up with part of a frog in her hand.

After a little more tugging there was a quick motion, a scream and I thought I saw the frog fall into the water. I figured she was a bit grossed out by the GIANTNESS of the bullfrog.

But it wasn't so.

She screamed because, yes there was a frog. And yes he was stuck. Stuck in the MOUTH of a snake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She had been gently tugging when all of a sudden she, and the boy, saw the snake with his mouth on the frog's leg. And not just a itsy bitsy snake but a very large snake. I saw something too - just not sure if what I saw was the snake or the frog as it was so quick.

We're not too sure how much of what she was feeling in there was the frog and how much was the snake! How creepy is that??!

All three of us left that area rather quickly. I felt terrible that I had been encouraging the girl to just reach in and grab the frog. Everyone knows you should never stick your hand into a hole you can't see into!!!!!!!

As we were walking away the boy said, "It was the Providence of God that that snake had its mouth full of the frog." (meaning the snake couldn't bite the girl with his mouth already full).

At first the girl said the snake was a water moccasin, then she said maybe a copperhead. I'd say that due to it's location it was probably a water moccasin - but she said it wasn't black - so who knows!

What also totally creeps me out is thinking of that odd sound the frog was making - making b/c it was being eaten by a snake....aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!