Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes (Vol 45)

It is great to be back into the routine of things and to be thinking all week about my Quick Takes. I missed it last week even though you all didn't know I was gone. So without further "ado"

Ummmmm, someone in my neighborhood needs to be working a tad harder on their spelling I am thinking. We aren't in West Virginia after all.

When HHBL and I take one of our "bigger" trips I spend a great deal of time journaling (not that I don't do that at home, I do). I get a small notebook at Wally Mart, there is one specific kind that I like. I get a special pen and I write and write and write. I do this because I want to remember every aspect of a trip. I want to remember what I did, what I heard, what I smelled (those are always good) and just.....just.....everything.

But then I come home and I have to type up all those notes so that I can put them in my journal. And the parental units always want to read about what we did. And it takes FOREVER for me to get them done. It takes forever, not because I am a slow typist because I am fairly fast. No it takes so long because I am so wordy. Wordy, wordy, wordy that is me. I have to write about the things that I see out the hotel window or the car window or the bathroom window. Whatever suits me.

But even though I complain about all the typing and stuff. I always am so glad that I have those notes when I go back and read about a trip.....but right now my fingers hurt from all the typing. I think I need ice cream to help.

I drank more pop last week than I had drunk in the previous 6 months for sure. I am not a big pop drinker but when you are in a country or countries where the tap water might kill you then when presented with something that is bottled and hopefully cold you jump at the chance. I have to say that the pop isn't always cold. I was having a meal in Nyahuka, Uganda about 10km from the border with Congo and I ordered a Fanta. The fellow walked over to the refrigerator and took out my Fanta, popped the top and brought it back to me. I took a big swig and.....HEY this thing isn't cold. And then it dawned on me. This town, way out in the rural part of Uganda, doesn't have electricity. I know this but it didn't occur to me that just because the pop was coming out of the refrigerator did mean that the refrigerator was actually working. Sigh.

The problem with drinking all that pop is now I have to battle my dormant or not so dormant now pop craving. I love regular Coke, I mean I LOVE it with a passion. But if I indulge then I just want more so I just try to stay away from it. It is like starting from square one again.

I think that HHBL and I are going to have to "blow" leaves one more time before we are done for the season. No we are not throwing up leaves, that would be down right nasty. We have a lot of trees and with trees comes Fall lawn maintenance. It was a nice day on Tuesday so we came home from the office early and spent 4 hours blowing all the leaves that had fallen off into the woods and the ravine. It will take another 4 hour stint and then I think it will be done. However, it looks like rain is in the offing for several days and that will impede our progress.

Using my leaf blower appeals to my order loving nature I can tell you. I can be precise and neat and ooooooooooooo it is giving me shivers just to think about it. There is something about seeing wide swaths of clean lawn that just makes me happy.

Yes I know I am wired wrong. I just go with it.

We had some friends stop by last night to pick up a box to take to The Shoe Queen. Ken and Marilyn have several progeny who also attend Wheaton College and they are going out for Parents Weekend, which starts today. HHBL and I are not going.....we are bad parents....

OK, got off track there. I just love Marilyn and I wish that she lived next door. We just think alike and we like some of the same things and we are both nurses. So we are standing there and talking and we get on the subject of Ebola virus. Marilyn and I both love talking, thinking and reading about communicable diseases, she because she specialized in that for many years and me because I am just wired wrong. So we are going along talking about Ebola, the subject having come up because last week HHBL and I spent two days in the town where the last Ebola outbreak was documented in 2007. And our poor husbands are just standing there staring at us like we are weird or something. No, we are not weird we are just enthusiastic thank you very much. You never know if you are going to encounter Ebola and it is best to know all that you can. So there.

Do you know what this is? This is a beetle that viciously attacked me last Monday night. Viciously I tell you. I will tell you the story next week sometime but I wanted you to be prepared for it, to have some big can of bug spray around just in case and to keep the children away from the computer screen lest they become frightened and develop neuroses and never want to go to Africa, or specifically Uganda when they grow up.

It could happen you know.

You know what one of the hardest things that I am having to deal with now that all the progeny are out of the house? There is no junk food around here. There are no chips, there are a few pretzels but not many. Nothing!!! I just didn't realize that it would be that difficult. We aren't a tremendously junk food oriented family but I always had a little something in the pantry. But not now.....If you were a bag of Cheetos at the moment you would not be safe in this household I can tell you. I want Cheetos very badly at the moment in all their greasy, highly processed, artificial orange goodness.

It is hard growing up.

Be sure to click on the Quick Takes picture above to speed through cyberspace to see what all the other Quick Takers are doing. Do.It.Now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Adventures in Mokono

So, part of the reason that we took that little trip to Africa was to see The Engage One (hence forth to be known as TEO). She is studying for a semester at this place...
Uganda Chirstian University is located in Mokono, Uganda about 45 minutes outside of Kampala. We flew into Entebbe on a Saturday evening, stayed overnight near the airport and then had a driver who took us into Mokono on a Sunday morning. It may have been Sunday but that doesn't mean that life stops of slows down on the roadways of Uganda let me tell you. I was obsessed with taking pictures of what people carry on their heads........but that is for another post I am thinking.

At any rate, I suppose that I ought to start by saying we are so excited that TEO chose to do this for a semester. I was asked a while ago how I felt about her choice. My answer, which I think HHBL would echo, is that we have raised all the progeny to be independent women, that they are smart and intelligent and make good decisions (well all except for that shaving the head incident several years ago). Now is the time for something like this, especially since she is getting married in May. Yes we were nervous but she is ultimately the Lord's child and we trust that He is protecting her and growing her. She is 21 years old and we weren't going to tell her that she couldn't go. She would have laughed at us if we did, and rightly so.

So, lets walk through our day with TEO. Do you have a cup of tea and some time? I hope so cuz I have pictures!

TEO's accomodations are all that she needs, and just barely that. Actually, she has adapted well to the living spaces. She and her roomie share a room that has enough space for a bunk bed (with mosquito net), one desk and chair, a small amount of floor space and two built in storage areas. That is it. I thought Cartoon Girls dorm room was small but it was graciously spaced compared to this place. There is a communal bathroom at the end of the hall with a place to wash clothes (in a bucket) and a cold water shower. A GREAT way to start the day. Actually, the temperature is very warm during the day so a cold shower feels pretty good.....or so she tells me anyway.
Of course we had to check out where she has her meals, because you know I am all about the food. I can't list all the things that she has to eat but I can tell you that it is HEAVY on the carbs. They often (read every day) have potatoes, rice, beans, "g-nut" sauce (that is peanuts to us), matoka (cooking bananas cooked and mashed) and other things. The kids tend to also go off campus to get food from the stands that line the road. I can tell you there were some tempting things out there that we sampled - I was especially partial to the chappati. In fact I will be making that at home soon. There is nothing like a flat, pancake like thing made of just flour, water, salt, sugar and sometimes a little oil rolled out and fried. I am telling you these are DELICIOUS!
Water is always an issue in developing countries. It is hot in Uganda. But you so do not want to drink the water out of the tap. Even those who are from Uganda don't want to drink that water. You do not want to brush your teeth with that water or even run your toothbrush in that water. You don't want to get the water into your mouth when you shower. UCU has a water filtration system and that is where everyone fills up their water bottles. Good thing I am thinking. We indulged in a water orgy.

We were able to go to church with TEO at the church there on campus. I have no pictures of that because TEO told me that I couldn't take any pictures. I complied but reluctantly. It was really great to be able to worship with other believers. We are always blessed by the experience and their praise band and "mixed choir" were pretty darn good.

After church we were able to have visit and meal with TEO's host family, whom she stayed with when she first came to UCU. It is just a short walk but a totally different world. We stood out like believe me, and it was the first time that I heard the cry "muzungu" which means white person. It wasn't the last time, and lest you think it is an epithet it isn't.
I should explain that the only boy in the home at the moment is Andrew, who has on the red shirt. All Ugandan children who are in school regularly have their heads shaved hence Patience (white shirt) and Vivian (blue shirt) also have peachfuzz.

TEO's host family lives in a three room home, without electricity or running water. The front room is where they live, the back two rooms are bedrooms that are occupied by 5-7 people, depending on whether the older boys are home from school.
Where ever you go, if you are a muzungu and are carrying a big honkin' camera you attract children. First there will be one, then the next time you look there might be two and then a whole crowd. These lovies just stood there and smiled until shooed away. Just as an aside, the week in Africa I saw more little babies without benefit of pants than I have ever before seen. They were darling and I would have taken pictures but then you would think I was wierder than you already thik. Believe me, when you see the post on "African toilets I have known" my wierdness will be confirmed.
Before we left for Africa HHBL had made sure to put on his iphone a bunch of homevideos of TEO at various ages. She and her host family spent time just yucking it up looking at those videos. An especial favorite is TEO, at about age 9, strenuously working out to the "Barbie Workout Video". I still crack up watching that one.
Lunch was a typical meal of rice, potatoes, beans, and cabbage. There was also some meat which I believe was pork. The pork was not typical, they usually only have meat once a week or so. We felt very honored that they went to the expense of serving us meat, and it is a great expense for them. Vivian dished me out a gigantic portion, about twice as much as I would have given myself. However, I valiantly finished 95% of it because to do otherwise would have been very rude and wasteful. I wish I could say that I didn't eat anything else that day....but I would be lying. I had a chippati later on. Yum!
This is Patience, TEO's youngest "sister". I just wanted to take her home with me! Funny, sharp as a tack, smart. What a joy to get to meet her.
We spent time taking silly pictures, or rather Irene was taking silly pictures and Patience was supervising. Then it was time to tour the campus, dodge the chickens that wander around (who do they belong to I want to know), get something to drink and sit and chat for a while. We won't see TEO again until December so we wanted to spend some time with her.
After dark we ventured out onto the main road to get something to eat, AGAIN, before our driver arrived. Um, it was an experience walking along a road with no street lights, along with bunches of other people, and hoping that one of those crazy motorcycle taxis (called bota botas) didn't take me out. I had to control my fear with the consumption of chippatis. It was a close call but I was eventually calmed sufficiently to walk back to the university.

Our driver arrived around 9p, we said goodbye to TEO and wended our way back to Entebbe

to be continued.................

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Africa? Why not the beach?

I suppose, before I start to bombard you all with posts about the trip, I should really explain why we were in Africa. Not that you asked but I know that you were wondering. I mean, most people go to say Cancun or California or Myrtle Beach if they take a trip.

But not us, oh no. We go to Africa. And as with most of our trips, we went with a purpose in mind. Actually two purposes, with an extra purpose thrown in a few week ago.

The first reason for going to Africa, specifically Uganda was because of this person, you know, the one who most resembles me......The Engaged One
This past spring, when I accompanied TEO to the travel clinic for her last remaining vaccinations before she left for Uganda Christian University something the nurse said got me to thinking. Lisa was lamenting the fact that when her daughter had been studying in Israel several years ago they had not taken the opportunity to go and see her. That got us to thinking..............

Can't you just hear the hamsters turning. For HHBL and I it was as if a lightbulb went off.

Hey, wouldn't it be a great idea if we sort of stopped by to see TEO at Uganda Christian University? We could see how she is doing and what the campus is like and you know, sort of see some of Uganda in the process? Well yeah, it is a long way to go for a short visit but you know we are all about the parenting thing and this sounds like fun. And if we don't do it then we will be kicking ourselves later on, and I try to avoid pain whenever possible.

Then a month or so before the trip we added another reason to go to Uganda......
Um Deb, what are those guys doing? Well, these fellows are bible translators from SIL Uganda (Wycliff Bible Translators). We have supported Wycliff personnel in the past and we contacted our US rep to see if we could see the work that is being done in Uganda. Boy did we ever! That will be an entire blog post (or two) in the days to come but let me tell you it was an educational experience all around. We also got to see, in the process, some of the workings of World Harvest Mission in Bundibugyo.

And the final reason had to do with these smiling faces
Who are all these kids you might be asking yourself. Well, these are our kids, our World Vision children, and we have been longing to see them for what seems like forever. Summer of 2008 we were 4 weeks away from visiting when HHBL had his little medical crisis. I didn't feel too comfortable going to Rwanda only 30 days after his time in ICU so we had to cancel the trip. But this time the Lord had it all worked out and what an experience it was.

So now you know why we went. Next up who knows, whatever I decide to tell you about, accompanied by pictures of course. Lots and lots and lots of pictures.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Whine Whine

I love traveling. I am sure that you have guessed that by now. But there is one aspect of traveling that I do not like, that throws me off, that makes me less than the person that I deserve to be.....

It is recovering from a trip, especially a trip overseas.

If I am going to Florida, where I am just going to rest and relax then it isn't as much of a big deal. But when I have been gone to someplace that is so different from where I live then it takes me a while to get "back in the swing of things". I tend to be rather inefficient, ineffective, lay around and do nothing.

It is as if my regular life mojo is still traveling, still flying somewhere. It is not here.

Consequently: the laundry takes forever to get done, I have no idea what we are having for dinner (I think hamburgers but it is still early yet), my house is dirty, the leaves are still on the ground, and my "to do" list just keeps getting longer and longer.

It is at times like this when I wonder why we take these trips. For however long I am gone I need the same amount of time to get reacquainted with life.

I know, I am a whining, crying baby. At least The Biggest Loser is on tonight.

Hopefully the first "Africa" post will be up tomorrow. I am starting to go through all the pictures.....but there are about 976 of them so it takes several cullings before I can even edit. I mean, how many pictures of people carrying things on their heads to I really need. A lot apparently.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm back, I'm back, I'm baaaaaack!!!

Did you miss me as much as I missed all of you? I have so much to tell you and so many pictures to show you and....


What do you mean you didn't know I was gone?

Didn't I tell you that I would be out of town for 9 days? That actually I would be out of the country, WAY out of the country?

I could have sworn I said something. Hmmmm, let me think.....thinking......thinking.......thinking....well, I guess I forgot to mention it.

The posts that just kept appearing fooled you eh. The beauty of the internet.

So, let me tell you where I have been.

I have been..........

TO. AFRICA. Specifically to Uganda and Rwanda.

Can't you just hear Merle Streep's voice in your head. "I had a farm in Aaaaafrica"

OK, maybe not. I don't own a farm in Aaaaaaafrica. But none the less that is where we have been for the last 9 days. That is really sort of misleading because it takes a honkin' long time to get there. We were actually IN Africa for 7 days with a day of travel at either end because, HEAVEN FORBID, you could actually go directly there. Oh no, it was:

Cleveland - Newark - Brussels - Kigali, Rwanda - Entebbe, Uganda
Kigali, Rwanda - Entebbe, Uganda - Brussels - Newark - Cleveland

And there were also two plane rides in country, one on a little, tiny Mission Aviation Fellowship plane and one on a regular old plane from Entebbe to Kigali. Good thing that I don't get airsick let me tell you.

Oh my word I am just bursting with things to tell you, just bursting! So be prepared to be bombarded with post after post full of pictures and adventures. I wished that I could have taken all of you with me but you will just have to sit through all the posts.

I have to say that this was not really a sightseeing trip, although we did have a couple of days at the end where we did some "touristy" kinds of things but for the most part we were visiting several missionary/NGO groups that we are involved in. AND, we were also visiting The Engaged One, who is studying for a semester at Uganda Christian University. But just so that you will have the flavor of the trip I will give you some highlights. I will say that I took approximately 1000 pictures but don't worry you won't have to sit through ALL of them....but maybe a few will show up once I have edited, whittled down, looked at them all. At any rate here are some of the highlights:

Over the course of the last 9 days:
  • 40 hours just spent flying in airplanes, that doesn't count layovers and time getting through what seemed like 10,000 different security checkpoints.
  • stayed overnight in 5 different hotels - some WAAAAAAAAAY better than others
  • way too many hours to count traveling by 4wheel drive vehicle over some incredibly bad roads
  • trekking to see the Golden Monkeys (seeing gorillas is WAY too expensive)
  • eating rice and potatoes for just about every meal. Because those are the two staple foods in Uganda and Rwanda and that is what we were served. I will eat just about anything and did.
  • meeting some of the most amazing people. I will introduce you in the weeks to come.
  • shaking hands with and getting hugs from people who have never even heard of deodorant and wouldn't understand why you would use it and loving every minute of every hug.
  • being attacked by various bugs including every mosquito in Kigali who realized that I had forgotten to use the mosquito netting and a really, really, REALLY large beetle.
  • using every imaginable form of bathroom, and yes I took pictures of a lot of them.
  • not sleeping very well because it is hard to sleep on airplanes and it is really hard to sleep well in beds that are not your own.
  • being REALLY thankful for my own country where I understand how things work and for all the things that we take for granted here in the good old US of A.
That is just a few of the highlights. I need to get some more sleep, look at pictures, think about what I want to say. So hang on followers, readers and lurkers (who SHOULD be followers) cuz there is a lot to come.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Do you know what this stuff is? Of course you do, it is vanilla extract. This particular bottle costs around $8 at Walmart. $8 for a 2 oz bottle of something. It grates on me that I have to pay that much for such a small amount. It's just not right! They have us over the proverbial vanilla barrel. So I decided to do something about it. Vanilla users of the world unite!

Do you know what this lovely elixir is?

It is homemade vanilla extract. Oh yes it is and it is awesome I can tell you. The smell is heavenly.

Here take a big sniff

Sniffffffffffffffffffff. Ahhhhhhhhh.

See, I told you that it is awesome.

Do you want to know how to make it? I will be glad to demonstrate.
These are the things that you need. It is so simple that it should be criminal. Just two ingredients. Good vanilla beans and average bourbon. A mason jar or other glass container with a tight fitting lid. How can you go wrong.

There are a couple of things that you should know. I would get vanilla beans that are long and lovely and plump. You know, reading that sentence it sounds like I am writing a bad romance novel. But I do have a hot and heavy romance with my homemade vanilla so perhaps it is appropriate. Hmmmmmm.

At any rate. Get good vanilla beans. It makes a difference in the taste of the final product.

And then there is the bourbon. Now I will admit that you can use other forms of alcohol to make your vanilla extract, I just prefer the bourbon. I have no idea why because I don't actually drink the stuff but it is what I use. And I should also tell you that you have to use High Proof alcohol (80 Proof or more) which means, at least in my state, that you have to go to an actual liquor store to get it. That was an experience let me tell you. I don't frequent liquor stores, I am more of the wine shop girl myself. So, I had to locate the closest liquor store and then I had to go there. And then I had to stand in front of a shelf with about a gazillion different choices for bourbon. Who knew that there were that many choices?? I immediately eliminated the stuff that was $40/bottle. That sort of defeats the purpose for making the stuff myself. I also eliminated the really low end stuff. It just seemed that a $6 bottle of alcohol wasn't what I wanted. So, I grabbed something middle of the road and went up to the counter where I was nearly bowled over by some woman "of a certain age" and bottle blonde hair color who was wanting to buy her 10 gallon jug of vodka. Having a party perhaps? No? Ummmm, well then, uh never mind. And then the woman who checked me out actually put my bottle in a, in a, in a .......brown paper bag. I slunk out of there hoping that no one saw me.

Where was I? Oh yes, vanilla extract.
First take the vanilla beans and gently split them down the center with a very sharp knife. Don't cut all the way through it and leave about 1 inch at the top that isn't cut.
Then you need to measure out 1 1/2 cups of bourbon.
Fold the vanilla beans in half and put them into the mason jar and then pour the bourbon in and seal it up. Give it a gentle shake. Then put it into your pantry and wait.
While you are waiting you could have one of these. Or perhaps about a thousand of them because you see you have to wait for a while for the extract to be ready. You need to wait two months to be exact. That is really how long it takes. Really. Every week or so you go into your pantry or broom closet or whatever dark, cool place you have the extract stored and give it a gentle shake. Open it up and take a good whiff, close it up, put it back and think of all the lovely things that you are going to make when the extract is done.

While you are waiting try to find a nice little bottle that you can put the extract in once it is finally done. Mine came from the thrift store and cost me all of 90 cents. Aren't I thrifty.

Now, go out and make your own vanilla extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

mason jar
high proof alcohol (80 proof or more) like bourbon or vodka
2 good vanilla beans
2 months of time.

With a sharp paring knife cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of each bean that is uncut

Put the beans in the mason jar and cover with 1 1/2 cups of bourbon. You can add more if you want, just so that it covers the beans completely.

Tightly cover the jar and give it a good but gentle shake. Store in a cool, dry place for two months. Give the jar a gentle shake every week or so.

Friday, October 23, 2009

7 Quick Takes (Vol 44)

Ah yes, I know that you are looking at this post looking for the familiar numbers 1-7 for my Quick Takes.......and they are not there.

This is the Quick Takes Vol 44 that didn't happen. It has been a very busy week, there are many things to tell you about in little snippets but I never got it written. And I am away from my computer today so they will not be happening. I hang my head in shame.

I do have LOADS of things to tell you but they will have to wait for another day. Still, remember to click on the picture above to go and see the other Quick Takes for the day, even if I have failed in my mission.


Never let it happen again young lady!!!

I am bad. Sigh.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Granola Bars

We love granola bars around here, we go through them like poop through a goose. You don't think poop goes through a goose very fast? Then you don't like in an area with Canada geese I can tell you!

Now back to food

So, we love granola bars and eat them a lot. And because we eat them a lot I decided some time ago that I needed to be able to make them at home because I couldn't keep up with the demand and the cost was killing me. After searching on the old internet and some experimentation I have finally (I hope) gotten the recipe down and thought I would share it with you, my wonderful internet friends.

First you will need this stuff
Look at all those lovely ingredients, yum.

You see this stuff. This stuff is homemade vanilla. Oh yay. And let me tell you it is liquid gold and it smells absolutely divine! I will be telling you how to make this later this week, just because I am nice and I care about your bottom line. It is MUCH cheaper to make this stuff than to buy it.

Now that we have all taken a good whiff of the vanilla lets get cracking shall we. The first thing you do is you get your oatmeal out. It can't be quick oats, it has to be that old fashioned kind.
Dump 2 cups of rolled out onto a large baking sheet

Then chop up 1 cup of pecans and add them to the baking sheet

Then add 3/4 cup of wheat germ, 3/4 cup of sunflower seeds and 3/4 cup sliced almonds.

Mix them all up on the baking sheet. Go on, use those digits. That is why God gave you fingers. Put the baking sheet into the oven at 350F

Set the timer to this many minutes. When the timer goes off, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon and then let it toast for another 5-10 minutes. Then take it out and let it cool down. Please ignore the fact that my timer needs to be cleaned in a BIG way. I will get to it eventually but I am busy at the moment.

While the oatmeal mixture is cooling you can go ahead and roughly chop up whatever dried fruit that you would like. The total amount of dried fruit should be about 1.5 cups. I just eyeball it but that measurement was for my friend Lauren. There you go Lauren.

After you are done chopping the fruit then it is time to make the "glue" that sticks everything together. It is good glue, it doesn't take anything like the library paste that you ate as a kid. Not that I would know anything about that!

Put 8 tablespoons of butter into a small saucepan

Add a scant cup of honey, a 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I told you these were good.

Turn the burner to medium low and start to melt everything together. At first it is going to look like this, with all the butter on the top. Get out your whisk and keep stirring, don't get discouraged.

Eventually it will look like this. Just keep it warm on the stove until you need it, stirring it occasionally.

When the oat mixture is cooled and the glue is done then it is time to put it all together.
Put the oat mixture, the dried fruit and 1 cup of flaked coconut into a big bowl. Add the glue and mix it all around with a wood spoon. It will be sticky but not too bad.

Then dump it into a 9x13 pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray and lined with wax paper. The wax paper is VERY important because that is going to help you get the granola bars out when they have cooled.

Press the granola mixture down into the pan. It is really sticky so I use a piece of wax paper as a barrier and a spatula to put pressure on the mixture. You want it to be rather well compacted.

Then stick the pan in the refrigerator to cool.

Once it is done cooling (several hours) take it out and gently turn the pan over onto the counter. The wax paper should make this easy. Cut the granola bar brick into manageable pieces. Wrap the pieces up in plastic wrap or small baggies and store them in the frig. They really do taste better if stored in the cold. Ask The Shoe Queen, she agrees with me.

Then feel free to eat them at any time of the day or night. They are delicious.

Mouthwatering Granola Bars

2 C rolled oats
3/4 C wheat germ
3/4 C sunflower seeds
3/4 C sliced almonds
1 1/2 C chopped dried fruit- pineapple, apricots, golden raisins, cranberries
1 C chopped pecans
1 C flaked coconut
8 T. butter
scant 1 C honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 t. vanilla

Mix oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds and chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Toast in 350F oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool.

Line 9x13 glass dish with waxed paper, spray with non-stick spray and set aside.

Heat brown sugar, butter, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan. Stir until dissolved and incorporated.

Chop dried fruit, add to oat mixture along with coconut. Pour "glue" over all and mix well. Dump into lined pan and compact the mixture down. Cool 2-3 hours in the refrigerator before dumping the "brick" out onto the counter and cutting into smaller bars.

You can also make chocolate peanut butter granola bars. Instead of adding dried fruit add about a cup of mini chocolate chips. Also melt 3 T of peanut butter into the "glue". Then prepare the same way that you do the dried fruit granola bars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Naptime for the Garden

I am always amazed how fast the summer flies around here. It just seems like the last snow has finally melted and then we have to do the whole thing over again. Whine, whine, complain, complain.

One of the things that needs to be done in the Fall is to get the beds ready for the winter.

I have to admit that even though it is a ton of work and my back just wants to get on a plane to Tahiti about half way through the process, I sort of, kind of enjoy it. It appeals to the obsessive/compulsive/destructive part of my nature. I like to know that the beds are all set to hibernate for the winter. I like the fact that beds that are cleaned out are easier to blow leaves out of.....and we have A LOT of leaves.

And I also like cleaning the beds out because I get to employ this.....
"OOOOOO, look at the shiny serrated blade Daddy. Do you think it will cut things? Can I have one Daddy, can I pleeeeeeeeeeeeze?"

Yes, this is an old knife from my kitchen and it is my weapon of choice for Fall clean up. It slices through most anything. Makes life a lot easier I can tell you. And if I need to work off some "mad" or frustration it is sooooooo satisfying.

It is always amazing that the garden can go from looking like this
to looking like this, in so sort a time. At least it seems short to me although the time lapse is several months.

There she goes with the pictures of Hen n Chickens again. When will it stop?

Ummm, my mother-in-law gave me this statue, which used to sit in their living room. I put it in the garden. I hope she never notices because I don't think that is where it was supposed to go. But I like it there.

"Ummmmm Deb, is that a toilet in your garden?"
Why yes it is. This used to sit over by the septic system. I thought the irony was wicked but HHBL didn't appreciate it and it made the mowing difficult so I moved it over into the garden so that I can appreciate it all year long.

It goes without saying that this is a non-working poo receptacle.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

They Are So Cute!

Because I have about a bazillion things to do today I figured that I would spend a great deal of time looking at pictures. I can procrastinate with the best of them I tell you. So, I thought I would show you a few of my favorite pictures from when my progeny were little. There are way too many to show you in one post, you might go running for the hills so this will just be a first installment I am sure.

NOOOOOOO, don't go away!!! It won't be that bad I promise.

Ride 'em cowboy!
Cartoon Girl and TEO (The Engaged One) made these one year at Vacation Bible School. They used them so much over the next few years that the poor ponies just fell apart.

Pouty Face TEO.
Who knows what the problem was but I just love her little round face and quivery lip.

Cartoon Girl talking (not a surprise there). She came out talking or so I am told. I don't know because they had given me happy medicine before slicing me open so all the world was rosy.

One Christmas morning I stumbled out of our bedroom, needing coffee and needing to get the coffee cake in the oven and what did I find? Cartoon Girl at the top of the stairs, totally asleep but with her clock in view so that she wouldn't miss anything. The kid didn't even have a pillow.

Poor TEO! Who had the audacity to put her in the laundry hamper? Can't you just hear her whining to get out.

I just love this picture. What you can't see is that the guinea pig had it's ears back and wasn't too happy to be closely inspected.

Hello Easter! Don't I look so cute in my little hat!
I believe that this is the last time that Cartoon Girl ever voluntarily wore something that was pink.

Every child needs a plastic moustache don't you think?

Shoe Queen at her entertaining best. She was a happy baby.

It is just amazing what you can do with empty Cool Whip containers and a few scarves. I am not quite sure what the look was that they were going for but......this might not have been it.

Cartoon Girl and TEO in a more loving moment. At least that is what it looks like anyways.

And here they are today, all growed up.