Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkins and apples Oh My!

Nothing says fall like pumpkins and apples.

Jeff likes pumpkin seeds so he wanted to cut up the pumpkin I just bought so he could cook the seeds inside. I asked him why didn't he just buy a bag of seeds, but he said it wasn't the same ;)

 I didn't want to waste the pumpkin so I thought I'd attempt to use it.

My roommates and I tried to use fresh pumpkin to make a pie once in college once and regretted it, it was so much work! ... but after processing the pumpkin this time I thought it wasn't too bad and I wouldn't mind doing it again. (Part of our problem in college was not having the right kitchen tools;)

So I cut up the pumpkin and cooked it (found out later that you can just cut it in 1/2 and cook it in the oven rind and all and then scoop out the stuff.

After it was cooked and soft I just put it in the blender.

It came out perfect! My small to medium pumpkin made about 5 cups of processed pumpkin.

I used it to make pumpkin muffins.

They are the easiest in the world

1 can of pumpkin (or 1 1/2 cups fresh ;)
2 eggs
1 box of spice cake mix

Stir it up and cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I froze the extra pumpkin in a ziplock bag for later and I have to say I think that fresh pumpkin was better.


So on to the apples. We were coming out of our ears in them so first priority was to give them out for Home teaching and visiting teaching. I found these baskets at the dollar store (along with the leaves to make the cards) and we made some deliveries before the apples started going bad.

We got most of our people that way. Sweet!

So on to the rest. The sweetest apples we brought home unfortunately were the first to start getting mushy. I decided to get brave and try canning applesauce and apple pie filling (heard about the other sisters in the ward canning them.)

This device here was my life saver (Thank you Amy!!)  This was her apple corer, peeler and slicer. When it worked it was fabulous, though sometimes if the apples were too soft it would push through the center and just become a mess and I would have to cut them up by hand (much harder).

As I was cranking the apples through this little hole I was thinking how it was like us in life trying to follow the straight and narrow path. For those of us who can handle staying on the path the whole way through life things progress much smoother. There might still be some bumps and rough spots but generally the life ends up much smoother overall and our potential is realized more quickly. (The apple comes out cored, peeled and almost perfectly sliced)

For those who aren't able to stay on the straight and narrow path, maybe because we're soft in the middle and a little beat up from life they end up sitting on the sidelines for awhile and are only 1/2 complete until they have some help. Some times it worked to turn them around and try again. But for some even this doesn't work so they have to be dealt with individually, slowly, by hand. There results might not be as uniform or look like the others but eventually their potential can still be realized.

I thought about some of the people that I had the opportunity to serve in my calling and some seemed to need hardly any help at all and went through life without much need for anything but a smile and a kind word while others needed so much more individual care and attention. I guess thats why the Lord knows us best and trys to put people in our life that can help us on our path...whatever that ends up being.

OK sometimes I get a little philosophical when I'm doing repetitive chores for hours :)

End result was jars of applesauce and Apple Pie filling.

Note to self: Use a potato masher instead of a blender when processing the apple sauce...I tried Piper's and liked the texture better.

Leave more space between the apples when pouring the syrup in for the pie filling...and it takes 2 jars to make a pie...using one jar for apple crisp was not enough apples
(one jar never sealed so I used it right away)

Besides processing fruit I've been working on jewelry...while catching up on conference that we missed when we were in Florida. It's been nice to listen to talks while creating.

Simone Bannister is having an open house and I'm going to attempt to sell some jewelry. I've given it away for years for free so I might as well try to sell it...we'll see how it goes.

Fast recap for this past weekend...we decided last minute to take the kids to John's Incredible Pizza because we haven't been able to hang out with them much with all the busyness going on. (My kid call it JIP) We haven't been there in 2 years so I wasn't sure if they still would like it. It actually ended up being a fun night. Even Taylor enjoyed it. He complained about his ankle the next day but I reminded him it was probably from the jumprope game he was playing! Ashley was thrilled that she was finally tall enough to go on the "spinning ride" she loved it.

After we got home and put the kids to bed we ran over to Jeannie Williamson's birthday party. We were late but we wanted to show our support and love for Jeannie. Her children did a great job giving her a nice surprise party.

Saturday Jeff and I both left the house at 8:30. I drove over to the soccer fields and he drove to the temple to be an escort for Scott Vincent. Such an exciting day!  Jeff went through the session with the Vincent's and I drove out with Erin after the soccer game (got home with 15 minutes to change). Erin always makes things more fun so the fact that we had to wait a looongg time for the to start wasn't a problem at all. :)

It was so sweet to see their family sealed together. We were very glad to be able to be a part of their day.

After the temple we raced home and Jeff had 15 minutes before it was time to leave for Stake Conference Priesthood leadership. He got home in time to eat dinner and then him and I were off to the adult session about an hour later.

Jeff was fighting a migraine after marathon church day but it was really nice that at the adult session it focussed on a lot of musical numbers. We heard some amazing singers with a couple of talks thrown in between. It was a nice change. Afterwards we hit dessert with 3 other couples. Fun...looking around it was almost the same group we hung out with the week before!!  Ha ha!

Sunday after conference we offered dessert to the Steve and Tahna bunch and they said to bring it over to their house so we could meet Jenise's baby...

So cute!! We all took turns holding him...even Taylor who wasn't quite sure what to do with him and gave him back when he started crying.

Congratulations Jenise and Sean, he's adorable!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Playing catch up...

This actually was a couple of weeks ago...but I'm still playing catch up...

Whoah what a week I just had!! Came back in town with a to-do list a mile long. Just got the last thing checked off and it’s Monday of the next week!

Sunday – Last official day of Sunday Morning meetings and setting up the Relief Society room, got lots of notes to give to Donna. Donna called me a couple hours after church to get directions over the phone on how to fill out a food order, she had one already…she’s jumping in quick.

Monday – After the gym and starting the wash I spent the rest of the time till kids got home giving Donna Culbertson the down low on Relief Society duties. (I hate those days I can’t get into the shower until 3:00!) That night was no soccer but we got a cool Family Home Evening at the Elsworth’s. They did a lesson, game and of course we picked our picks for the Amazing Race. Friendly little competition between friends. (One of our teams was the first one to go home last night, dang!)

Tuesday – Woke up to early piano, lots of no practicing going on the week before! Trying to finish wash…fast forward to kids home and straight from school pick up to take Ashley to the orthodontist, then straight to Achievement Day for their hike. So fun Botanical Gardens in the mud (from the sprinklers). Luckily I had a little towel for the muddy bottom that rode home in my car. Enter home to have 45 minutes to think up, make dinner and get ready for mutual. We all went to mutual (Ashley with homework in tow since she didn’t have time to finish it) for Road Show Practice. Somehow Jeff and I got roped into doing the leads and despite our pleadings to let the youth have our roles it looks like we’ll be playing the part of mom and dad on the Brady Bunch spoof. Got home late and made dough for bread ring experiment.

Wednesday – Trip to the gym and then over to Ceecee’s to roll out bread rings and figure out how to make them so we can teach them on Saturday. Ended up with a list of supplies and some bread rings to come home and bake. That night brought rice for the Negrettes and off to soccer. Was asked to sub for seminary (first time).

Thursday – Subbed for Seminary and brought a bread ring. The kids were great but the lesson was so short I was stalling for time by the end. We had a very nice discussion…tried to cover it up ;) in the end it was all fine but I’ll remember that for next time. From school drop off I went out shopping for all the bread ring stuff…all over town and back again.

Friday – Woke up to make dough for 20 bread rings (Ceecee made the rest). Fridge is full of dough! Went straight into house cleaning and getting all stuff ready for the Super Saturday the next day. As soon as the kids walked in Ashley and I got ready for Apple picking at Oak Glen. (She was the only one who wanted to go). After a long bumpy drive over the hills and through the woods our Caravan of apple seekers arrived at the picking farm. We picked apples galore for $10.00 a box, or laundry basket…whatever you had. Lots of fun, had to look for rotting apples, bees in the rotting apples and constantly waving gnats away from your face. Thanks Amy for arranging it! Got home and 15 minutes later got a call that I was needed at the church immediately for my keys so they could get tables out for setting up Super Saturday (luckily I hadn’t given them to Donna yet). Wolfed down dinner got to the church to help set up.

Ashley ready to pick apples

There were a lot of people picking but there were tons of apples for all of us!

We were encouraged to taste test them to see if we liked them.

Yum. Ashley was my good little helper.

Now what to do with all these apples ???

Saturday – Up early and off to the store to get the things missing for my “soup offering” for Super Saturday. Put soup together and all goodies for the bread ring class and I’m off to the church. All day of helping ladies make their bread rings. What a job! Couldn’t have done it without Ceecee and Margarita who came to help last minute! Had to laugh at some people’s idea of what is an appropriate amount of nuts and raisins is for the bread. One roll probably had a pound and ½ of nuts itself! (It wasn't sister Jones ;) Luckily the fillings made it to the end. Had to cut out a little early on the cleanup to get Jeff my car to get ready for Best of EFY carpool. Jeff raced it to the carwash, raced home and we loaded up. Drove kids to Cypress for fireside, pizza and dance for the ones 14 and up. Had fun bringing Ashley on our date night dinner with the other adults waiting around to give the kids rides. Got to hear all kinds of fun wedding day stories from the other couples!  Drove a car filled to the brim of beehives and deacons home after the fireside. Fell asleep before Taylor got home himself…luckily I left the door unlocked.

Best of EFY!

What a week…thinking this one has to be quieter!!! But you never know what will creep in this week… I just heard president Uchdorf’s talk about not letting ourselves get too busy…and taking time for peace and quiet…great idea…if only I could convince the rest of the world that it’s a great idea as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Florida Day 5, 6 and going home

Ok now I'm several weeks behind updating my blog.  Long story short I ran out of space on Google and had to buy more to upload my pictures...that along with life....and I'm just now getting back.

So for the rest of our Florida trip.

Thursday was the day that they had an activity for the New York Life families. We rode an hour on a bus to get to a safari park. I met a nice lady from Utah and got to hear her remarkable life story.

The Safari park reminded me of the Wild Animal Park but instead of riding a tram through the animal enclosures you get to drive your own car.

This is cool if you have a car...not as cool when your on a huge bus full of people and it's full of crying and carsick kids.

(The boy behind me threw up in the aisle right next to me and we had to make a stop so they could clean it up before we started.)

We got to see some really neat animals up close...

But we were so short on time by the time we were done with the tour we had to drive back to the hotel immediately.

All those cranky and carsick kids were now crankier and more carsick because they couldn't get out and take a break from the bus. My companion had a migraine and was silently trying to block out the noise around her. I'm thinking the family excursion wasn't as fun without the family there.

Hanging out at the hotel might have been more boring but it would've been quieter ;)

After Jeff was done with his meetings for the day Doug and Jaimie came with us to go check out South Beach in Miami. We heard it was THE Place to go so we thought we'de take the afternoon to go and check it out.

I loved that the beaches in Florida looked like the watercolors that you see of beaches with sand dunes and picket fences...I used to think those pictures weren't of "real" beaches because the beaches out here never looked like them ;)

Walking out to the sand we realized how windy it was. It was so windy we were getting pelted with sand!

I don't know if you can see it or not but there are clouds of sand blowing through the buildings of Miami and hardly anyone on the beach.

Even the birds were smart enough to take cover. This flock of birds was standing downwind from the stack of chairs to protect themselves from the sand! Smart birds!

Behind every trash can was a beachgoer trying to protect themselves from the sand
(you can see one in the corner)

The downtown area wasn't very busy at that time of day but we thought that the stores reminded us a lot of down town New York.

Though I don't remember seeing Psychics in New York.

After checking out Miami we raced back for our final New York Life dinner that was featuring entertainment from and local group like Cirque du Soleil. 

We could tell that we would be in for a fun night.

We weren't disappointed! They had little shows in between the courses of our dinner and all of them kept us enthralled the whole time.

We were lucky enough to sit at the table with the New CFO. After saying goodbye to the old one it was nice to get to know the new one. He and his wife were both very nice (notice they aren't above wearing the glow sticks too ;)

The acts at the end were amazing! This contortionist was unreal! My back hurt just watching her.

This balancing act was unreal too. He got so high that we were sure he was going to fall. Jeff took lots of video of him doing his tricks...just waiting for him to fall so we could send it to funniest videos. He never fell!

After the show we went and talked to the cast...some were from Florida...

And some were from Mongolia and Russia!

We met a new couple that were friends with Sam (who we talked to a lot last year). This orthodox Jewish couple had 10 children! Jeff talked to the husband and I was interested to hear that the wife's favorite thing to do at the conventions is go shopping at the malls since the stores are all in the same place. (She doesn't drive so it's hard to shop in New York on a Subway) She had never been on a plane until she came to a New York Life convention the year before.

The next day Jeff had investment meetings. He usually stays for this extra day.

After he was done we walked around the hotel some and then decided to try and shop for some souvenirs.

This courtyard was part of the original construction. It was nice to learn about the history of where we were staying.

It was harder than we thought to find souvenirs...there wasn't any Walmarts or cheap T-shirt stores...just high end shopping. We did find a cool gallery in this shopping plaza though.

(Leave it to us to want cheap souvenirs ;)

When we got back we went over to meet Doug and Jaimie at the pool. On the way back she showed me the "powder room" she discovered on the original wing of the hotel. This is just the room you enter before you get into the bathroom!

That night we were bussed to the Ragtop museum and car dealership.

The whole place was like a throwback to the 50's with all kinds of artifacts that you could touch and check out...not to mention the classic cars that they let you get inside of and check out.

There were 3 floors of entertainment and food...though we were spoiled after a week of great food...this dinner wasn't the greatest.

The ambiance couldn't be beat though!

I think I could've been a switchboard opperator...

Before we left we got some dessert at the Ice Cream Bar. Pretty sweet idea but it was so dark we didn't know what we were putting on our ice cream...

After dinner Jeff and I were relaxing in the room when Doug and Jaime texted us and asked us if we wanted to hang out since we were all leaving the next we hung out in the lounge eating more ice cream...and nacho...since it was right next to Serendipitys Yum.

It was fun to have California friends to hang out with during the week!

The next day was our last before we were flying back home. We wanted to try and get back to the Everglades and take the 2 hour tram tour. We were tight on time but with Jeff's driving and some calls ahead ...we made it just in time.

We learned even more about the Everglades from our guide who could tell us a lot more than our airboat ride operator.

We came up to this section in the road...can you see what's lurking in the water?

Yep another alligator!

This guy kept moving the grass to get a better picture...we were all waiting for him to fall in. Crazy guy!

He told us that the clumps of trees that we were seeing were from alligator holes. They scoop out the surrounding dirt little by little over the years and it makes the water deeper during the dry season...this allows bigger trees to grow.

The alligator's tail scrapes the bottom and creates a river through the grass that other animals follow right to his he's got his own home food delivery service set up.

In the middle of the tour we got to a giant lookout tower.

We didn't have much time to go up and look around but it was enough.

The view seemed to go on forever!

(And it was fun to run back down the ramp ;)

Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the tram.

Here is an anhinga bird...I guess they are native to Florida and we say them everywhere.

Here are some more baby alligators.

Right after the tram ride was done we walked back to this moma and her babies. I don't know if you can see them very well but they were hanging out on her head an on the lilypads all around her!

After we were done we had some more time to kill so we headed over to a Miccosukee Indian village on the reservation. (We found out from the guide that these Indians along with the Seminoles used to live on the the little tree islands and were the only tribes that escaped the American armies round ups...they were the only Indians that never succumed to the soilders and had to sign a treaty.)

In the village we got to see some of the traditional houses that would've been on the tree islands...along with the hammocks used to keep your children away from alligators.

Like this one...(fun fact did you know that Alligators got their name by gringos botched attempts to pronounce the Spanish phrase for lizard "el largarto")

It was interesting that out of all the people that worked there only one was from the Indian tribe, and only 2 or 3 were Indian at all!

They had lots of alligators but nobody to tell you anything about them (It might be busier on Saturdays)

After some more hanging out it was finally time to fly home and see the kids again. We had lots of fun but were ready to come home!

When they woke up the next morning we showed them the piece of Florida we brought back for them to enjoy...