Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Time to carve some Jack-O-Lanterns!  This year Clark drew a face on his pumpkin for daddy to carve.

Top is off.

Time to scoop some goop!

Grant and I worked on a baby pumpkin.  Grant enjoyed looking at the pumpkin "guts."

Daddy's carving a pumpkin!

Clark's pumpkin is ready to go!

Grant's pumpkin is ready, too!

Four pumpkins for our Halloween evening!

Glowing bright on Halloween night!

Must go turn the roasting pumpkin seeds!
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sweet Day!

This was the sight that greeted me as I headed to the garage to grab something this morning.  Clark out playing with the kitties in his jammies and chore boots.  That's my boy!

After convincing Clark maybe pants would be better for outdoor play we headed to the garden to dig our sweet potatoes.  We ended up with a good harvest!

Grant helped put them on the table in the barn to cure for awhile.

Clark helped too! 

I just couldn't resist this picture - I'll let you figure out what you see here:

Here's our table full of potatoes!  Can't wait to eat them this winter!

This afternoon Clark went with daddy to the ISU football game - which we won! 

Yep - sweet day indeed!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tricks or Treats

Little Dinosaurs!

Went Trick or Treating in downtown Ames today.
Grant spilled his bucket but made sure he picked up every last piece.

The pet store was the favorite of the day.

Lunch at Yummy's Cupcakes for pizza and what else - cupcakes.

Very tired and ready for a nap.

Off to visit some friends homes for evening Tricks or Treats.

To the grocery store to test out the new carts(?) and pick up some milk.

And back in car to head for home and watch It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Test Kitchen Thursday - Auntie's Roll Out Sugar Cookies

This week I'm featuring a recipe I have worked very hard on - for number of years.  Had to get this one right because it means so much to my husband and his family.  This is my husband's Great Aunt's (from her mom - his Great Grandma) Christmas Cookie recipe.  Unfortunately I don't have the greatest photos since I didn't actually decorate these - they went to Clark's preschool for their Fall Party today!

Auntie's Sugar Cookie Recipe:

Yield: approximately 5 dozen (depends on the size of cutter you use - warning: these cookies grow in the oven)

2 C     Sugar
1 C     Butter, unsalted (softened)
1 C     Sour Buttermilk (I found this odd at first but yes it helps -- add a little lemon juice if you don't have sour buttermilk on hand - on the flip side great way to use up old buttermilk in the fridge)
2         Eggs
1/2 t    Salt
1 t       soda
2 t       baking powder
1 t       vanilla
1 t       lemon flavoring
5 C     flour

Whisk together the flour, salt, soda and baking powder together; set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in sour buttermilk, vanilla and lemon flavoring. Add in the flour mixture.  This makes an extremely SOFT dough - you may want to add just a little more flour but don't overdo it.  The original recipe says to roll right away but I find giving it an hour or more in the fridge helps the rolling process.  Roll 3/8 inch and cut as desired.  Place cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Do not over bake!  The cookies should barely be  colored on the bottom.

While we waited for the dough to set we sorted all the Halloween cookie cutters!  We sorted by shape, and by color, and by size.  So many sorting options!  Now for my family's Christmas cookies there are traditional shapes that must be cut but for other times of year anything goes.  However, for the Fall Party at preschool we needed to make pumpkins.

Required Christmas shapes include (all frosted with white frosting):
Santa (with red sugar)
Wreath (with green sugar and 9 red hots - 3 berry bunches)
Star (with yellow sugar)
Bell (with blue sugar and silver nonperil for clapper)
Tree (with green sugar and red hot on top)

My addition to the list:
Snowflake (with large crystal sugar)
Rudolf (with red hot for nose)

After nap time we rolled the cookies out.  I tested using only 4 1/2 cups of flour like the original recipe and remembered why I don't do that.  The cookies will roll but be prepared to utilize LOTS of flour on the counter.  Even using the 5 cups you will still need to well prepare the counter with flour.  When rolling I usually use the bands you can put on the ends of the rolling pin to roll out to the perfect thickness every time. It really helps with even baking!

Here are some photos of the pre-school party today - there were lots of dinosaurs (including Clark in blue).

Three dinosaurs and three batmen - seemed to be the popular costumes today!

Frosting the cookies and adding M&M faces.

I thought this was an adorable picture.

Also, many thanks to Aunt Em for the Halloween treats that arrived in the mail today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skeletons in my Cupboards

Not that I usually show people my cupboards (especially the insides) but I thought I'd show off my before and after photos today.  While the boys were playing, I decided to tackle the kitchen cupboards.  Cooking and baking just aren't as appealing when you have to dig for supplies.  I kept things well organized through the State Fair but it went downhill fast after that.

OK - here we go -- here are the horrible guts of my large pantry.

My husband feels the middle drawer is much ignored and neglected and should be used more (the chocolate chip/nut drawer).

The boys' cupboard - BEFORE:

I even found extra space and room to spare - whoa!

The dreaded spice/cookie sprinkle cupboard - BEFORE: (note before also spills onto the kitchen counter -grrr!)

Ta Da!  Forgot to show the counter but it is now clear and free - ready for action!

I also managed to clean the upper and lower corner cupboards and cleaned up the cupboard under the kitchen sink (that was overdue for a makeover).  The boys decided early on that helping mommy was much more fun than playing in the living room.  So I had lots of help.  Luckily I emptied/consolidated some spice containers - that kept them occupied for quite some time.

There you have it - I showed off my skeletons!  What skeletons do you have lurking in your home?  I decided to do one cupboard at a time and it went rather quickly.  Now I feel like getting started on Christmas baking.  Something about a clean and organized kitchen makes me feel like baking (that and the cold, wintry weather).

In other news:
Grant has now officially joined us at the table.  Well, he's always eaten with us but now he is out of the high chair and in a booster seat.  He thinks it's the best!

Monday, October 25, 2010

National FFA Convention Highlights - Part 2

On Wednesday (Day 3) we headed to the Indianapolis Children's Museum (one of the best Children's Museum's out there - at least in our book).

Grant was enchanted with the trains.  We could have spent the whole day just in the train area if Grant had his way.

Although playing with the "glass" sculpture pieces was loads of fun too (still not as excited by this as the trains).

The sandbox was great fun!

 We enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit so much someone didn't get any photos - oh well!

Whew - then there was the science area full of balls, boats and water!  The boys were thoroughly exhausted by the time we returned to the hotel.  We ate in the room (Clark enjoys this activity) and both went to bed quick as a wink ;)

Thursday (Day 4) we took in the Career Show (see post here) with daddy and then out to lunch.  After lunch we changed clothes and headed to the hotel with train cars as rooms.  So cool!

Time for bed in our Halloween jammies.

But first - a little Petting Farm DVD watching on the computer.  I had to watch Grant closely since he wanted to touch all the animals on the computer!  After Grant went to bed Clark and I would snuggle on his bed and watch the Food Network - Clark thinks this is super awesome when we stay in hotels (OK - mommy likes it a lot too)!  

And finally on Friday some more Career Show and a visit to the Zoo (see post here for more).  The boys went to Trick or Treat night at the zoo as little FFA members :)  There were a couple times they upstaged the animals on exhibit that evening.  One advisor took their photo specifically to show her high schoolers what true official dress should look like!

It was a super fun trip!  Clark had so much fun he wants to know when we'll go back!