Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boys Just Wanna Have Fun

Look who loves the vantage point from the couch. And who can climb up there with the help of a few pillows his brother leaves on the floor.



In case you couldn't tell, this is a tractor. Colter is driving while Elliott rides along, and that's the mower sticking out the side. The bowl is the steering wheel.




Good grief, won't anybody let me alone to watch my cartoon?




Leaves! We played outside until dark one afternoon this week, which these days isn't all that late.


Elliott did like the leaves until he fell and couldn't get up.




And he wasn't too happy when I put him back in.



Soaking up the outside time while we can as the days get shorter and colder!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How 'Bout Them Apples?

Really? Nearly two weeks since I posted anything? The days have been flying by, a quick succession of appointments, playgroup, and a few days spent at my parents' making applesauce. We are pretty well stocked with applesauce for the year, with our share being 28 quarts. Though these growing boys would probably eat two quarts a week if I let them. I try to keep us to using only one a week, figuring that carries us through the winter, nearly up to the time lettuce, radishes, and the very earliest strawberries start appearing. I have a feeling in the next few years, we'll have to ramp up production.

Besides bringing home applesauce, we brought back a bunch of fresh apples. While the boys have been munching on them and eating them in oatmeal, I was excited to find a recipe that incorporated them into a main dish.


Apple Chicken Tart
(adapted from a Giant grocery store magazine)

1 recipe pizza dough (below)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced (the original recipe called for a large sweet onion, so if you like onion and have a sweet one on hand, go for it!)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1 large Red Delicious apple, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Pizza Dough
(Hmmm...can't remember where I cut this one out of but it is our favorite pizza dough recipe)
3/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 c. (or more) flour (I usually do one white, and one whole wheat or multi-grain)
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine 3/4 c. water and yeast; stir and let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture and olive oil, stir until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour if dough is very sticky. Knead for about 1 minute. Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise about 1 hour, until doubled.

Now, on to the real recipe...

1. Prepare dough as above. Preheat oven to 450˚F.

2. Stretch or roll dough to fit a 12-inch circular pizza pan or a 13 x 9-inch rectangle cookie sheet. Place dough on lightly greased pan.

3. Bake for 10 minutes or until dough is crisp, slightly browned and firm.

4. While dough is baking, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and thyme; cook until soft, about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, add apple, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.

5. Layer onions, apples, and cooked chicken over crust and season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and green onion and return to oven for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

6. Cut and serve.

I only put cheese on half the tart so Elliott could eat it too, but the melty cheese definitely helps hold all the toppings on. It was just as easy to make as a regular pizza, but a nice change in flavor.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! We actually have all our celebrating in already, since our town does a downtown trick-or-treating on the Wednesday before and neighborhood trick-or-treating on Thursday. We took full advantage though, going out both nights and enjoying watching Colter soak it all up.

Let's back up to Tuesday though, which was a beautiful day. Keith managed to get home a bit early, so the pumpkin carving was able to happen outside. Three cheers for pumpkin gunk staying outside! I am not a fan of getting my hands down in that goo, and Colter wasn't so much either, but he did want to help with the carving.




Meanwhile, Elliott had no qualms about slimy stuff on his hands.


Ok, maybe a little unsure.



Hmmm...what is this stuff?


 I wonder how it tastes?





 Let's take some nice photos out front with the pumpkins! Right...


On Wednesday, we suited up to head up Main Street. 


Let's try those pictures out front again!

Colter wanted to be a hermit crab, so a hermit crab he was.


He managed really well all night with his bulky shell, which ended up a bit heavier than I anticipated.


Elliott was an avocado because, well, because Colter said he should be an avocado. Green head to toe, with a hat I knitted for him and a produce label made with an iron-on transfer.



 Colter was so excited to wear his costume, and I'll admit I was pretty excited about how it turned out.




As for making it, I was a little stumped at first. You know you have a challenge ahead of you when a Pinterest search only has about three results. I texted a bit with my fantastically creative friend, and landed on a long tube of fabric, stuffed and spiraled into a shell. I sewed it onto a thrift store backpack, and then sewed and stuffed legs and attached them to the straps.





His claws were made out of the same fabric as the legs, and attached to a long piece of yarn that went through the sleeves of his shirt like mittens for little kids so he wouldn't lose them. I also put a piece of elastic on the underside of each claw so it could stay around his wrist without flopping around. His eyeballs were one of those silly headbands for parties with springs and two balls on the top; I just painted the balls white and added some goggly eyes. By raiding my mom's fabric bins, pulling apart some old pillows for stuffing, and checking the thrift store, the only new thing I bought was the headband (and it was on clearance at Target). Even Elliott's costume was all things my mom or I had on hand. My little eco-crab and eco-avocado!


I do find it funny that for three of his four Halloweens, he's gone as a shelled creature: a turtle, a lobster, and now a hermit crab. Perhaps a manifestation of his introvert ways?

Keith's parents were able to join us on Thursday night to see the boys dressed up, share some snacks, and bring the boys lots of goodies and some Halloween books. What a treat for all of us!

I think we'll be swapping the usual afternoon cartoon for some Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin today, just to make sure we do something Halloween-ish on Halloween (besides eating candy!) Hope you all have a wonderful Halloween, with just the right amount of spooky and sweet!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lock Out

I was thinking this morning of a funny story I never shared here. It happened just about a year ago, in one of the first few weeks after Elliott was born. I was on my own – Keith was back to work, my mom had gone home, it was just the boys and I. The stars were aligning and Elliott was fed and sleepy as Colter's nap time approached. I left Colter downstairs to finish his afternoon cartoon as I took Elliott up, changed him and swaddled him, and laid him down to nap.

I retrieved Colter from downstairs when his cartoon ended and took him up to use the potty. In the upheaval of Elliott's arrival, Colter decided the potty was going to be our biggest battleground. After a bit of whining and pleading (probably on both our parts), I decided to just close the door and let him take care of his business. When the door is latched, the knob is stiff enough that he couldn't turn it at the time. I went downstairs to wait him out for a bit.

Less than ten minutes later, I returned to see how he was making out. I turned the knob and pushed, only to find I couldn't open the door. I tried again and again but obviously that didn't change anything. The door was locked.

You see, in our 90-plus-year-old house, the doors each have a skeleton key for locking them. Most of the keys hang on a nail in each doorframe, but we had always left the bathroom one in the lock for convenience. Colter, in his grumping about, had managed to turn the key and lock me out of the bathroom. And lock himself in.

As I took a few deep breaths and peered under the door at Colter's toes, I was not yet panicking. If he could lock it, certainly he could unlock it. Right? I convinced him to give it a try, but those little two-year-old fingers just couldn't manage to get that tight lock unlocked. He got a little upset at first, but soon found plenty to explore in the cabinet under the sink.

Meanwhile, I was thinking up all manner of things to open the door.

If I put a key in from the other side, could I manage to open it? Nope, the key on the inside was in the way. No surprise there.

Was there a way to get in the window? Well, even if I got the ladder all the way up there, the window was locked and the storm window was down. That's out.

How about the hinges? Nope. They were on the inside of the door.

Ok, I'll take the knob and plate off and see what I can do. I went down to the work bench in the basement to gather tools: screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, picks, whatever I thought might be helpful.

In the midst of all this, I was still asking Colter to keep trying to unlock the door. I also slid a spoon under, instructing him to put the handle of it through the loop of the key, hoping he could gain a little leverage to turn it. I promised a cookie if he opened the door. He did what I asked, but still couldn't get it unlocked.

Oh, and at one point I heard him chewing and frantically asked, "What are you eating?!? Take it out of your mouth!" Visions of calling 911 and firemen chopping down the solid wood door crossed my mind. Finally, he slid the cap of a little sample tube of lotion for Elliott under the door. You know, the perfect size for choking on.

Seeing no quick fix to the problem after I had the plate off, I texted Keith to call me. I also called my dad, hoping that in the realm of his experiences was something that would help me and Colter out of this jam. He laughed, but had no save-the-day ideas.

About now Colter decided to sit down and poop. On the potty, thank goodness.

Keith called me and I let him know what was going on. I told him I'd work on it for awhile, not to come home just yet, but he decided to head straight home. Oh, and this little escapade pulled him out of a meeting just weeks after he started his new position at work. After awhile of fiddling with some little picks and tiny screwdrivers, I hadn't even budged the lock.

Finally, an hour or so into this ordeal, Keith arrived home. Seeing no other options, he drilled several holes around the lock mechanism so that we could put skinny screwdrivers in and push the key around, unlocking the door. Approximately an hour and half after being shut in the bathroom, Colter was freed. He promptly requested the cookie he had been promised.

Amazingly enough, he still went down for a nap. But by then, Elliott was up, though thankfully he had slept through the whole thing and I wasn't dealing with a crying baby in the midst of all of it.

If you are visiting and want to lock the bathroom door, the key now resides on top of the medicine cabinet. Please don't make us come in after you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happenings

My mind keeps churning the thought, "I need to do another blog post. But what?" So today, you get a bit of this and that, because that's what life is at the moment. A little progress on a lot of things, a lot of repetition, and some new routines in the mix.

We (and I use the we generously because the bulk of this falls to Keith) have been laying flagstone on our patio. It is not the quick project we thought it would be, but we are really pleased with how it is turning out. It has eaten up nearly all of Keith's weekend time since the Labor Day weekend, and there are at least two more weekends of work to go. Literal tons of stone, sand, lime, and cement have been handled for this project. More details to follow when it is all finished!





There are projects that I can't show you yet, Halloween costumes and Christmas gifts that are keeping my hands busy. And Elliott's Christmas stocking, which I am madly stitching away at in hopes of having it ready for the holidays this year.

And of course there are these two, who keep a person quite busy.


There are things on repeat, like bread baking and yogurt making, that fill the days when I think there is nothing really going on.

There are brand-new things, like my sweet little niece who arrived earlier this month. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but I am certain she is the dearest thing I have ever seen. Have you ever seen such perfect little lips?


Colter was quite excited to meet her, as we all were.


The garden is finished with the exception of some brussels sprouts. We are enjoying the bold and beautiful blooms of some dahlias from bulbs a co-worker of Keith's gave us.


Colter has a playgroup one morning each week. The four families take turns hosting, and then every fifth week, we take a little outing. The first was to a pumpkin patch, where we enjoyed a hayride, a short movie about how pumpkins grow, and lots of play time in corn bin "sandboxes" and climbing on combines. Silly me, I didn't take any pictures but the other moms had me covered.



I feel like we are barreling through fall at warp speed, and I am not ready to say goodbye to mild weather and time spent outside. Certainly Colter isn't and Keith feels like he is racing the calendar to wrap up the patio project. I hope fall has been lovely so far for all of you!

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