poor little camel

Tonight my roommate and I decorated for Christmas.

Let’s just say we learned a valuable lesson about the level of summer heat in the attic and what kinds of things it is ok to store up there all year long.

I’d like to introduce you to one of the victim’s of the attic tragedy of 2011: my camel.

My grandma has been getting me pieces for a nativity scene for lots of years now.  I always love pulling each piece out of its box.  It is as if I am opening it for the first time when I am reunited with Mary, Josesph, Baby Jesus, Baby Deer, Miriam, Caleb, Jeremiah, and others that may or may not be in the true version of the Christmas story.  This year I pulled out Camel and thought, “something doesn’t look right.”  Perhaps it was the fact the my now very tipsy  camel is quite bow-legged.

What caused this? No one knows. The heat?  Polio?  Arthritis?  Too much to drink??

Before & After pics

Before

Crippled Camel

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My First Pie

Dear Diary,

I signed up to make a pie for Thanksgiving.  I have never made a pie before.  I’m a little nervous, but I plan for it to be delicious, so …

The recipe calls it a Snozzberry Pie.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I googled it.  I learned it is a reference from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I feel like I should have known that.  If anyone asks at Thanksgiving, I think I’ll go ahead and call it a triple berry pie, since there are after all three berries in it.  The pictures look delicious, so fingers crossed…

Right now it is Wednesday at 4:53 pm.  I have officially started my career in pie baking.  I am making my crust from scratch using this user-friendly recipe.  So far I have cut up the butter and put it in the freezer. I’d say that went pretty much according to plan.  I’m assuming the rest of the recipe will be just as easy as my butter cutting experience.  I mean, it was also my first time cutting butter into cubes and putting it in the freezer. 

4:59 pm.  The butter is still in the freezer.  It is supposed to stay in their for an hour.  So in the meantime, I am cooking a pizza from Trader Joe’s for dinner.  I just thought you’d want to know.  Isn’t live blogging, which our friends will read later, fun, Diary?

5:51 pm.  Well kids, it has been an hour.  I guess it is time to proceed.  Wish me luck!

6:01 pm. Food processor has been successfully located and reassembled.  Flour and salt are pulsed together.  (note: I stopped myself in time, but I almost just pour flour into the food processor without measuring it.  this should be interesting.)  Butter is coming out of the freezer! 

6:14 pm.  Things were touch and go there for a little bit when I didn’t think it was going to come together in the food processor.  But then I re-read the directions and took comfort in the fact that the domesticated blogger in which this crust recipe comes from feels nervous every time too.  I was a little over-zealous in my water addition.  I used restraint and didn’t add more than 4 tablespoons, but I failed to heed the “slowly” part of the directions. 

6:23 pm.  I sliced the dough in half, smooshed each circle down flattish, and saran wrapped them up.  I think this is probably my most successful and least-angering use of plastic wrap.  So if the pie doesn’t turn out, at least I seem to have gained some valuable kitchen food storage skills.  The dough is now chilling for 30 minutes. 

6:52 pm.  Nervous, but moving forward with some berry measuring.

7:00 pm.  Blackberries and raspberries are measured and in their bowl.  I started slicing the strawberries, but then a new episode of Up All Night came on.  I’ll try to continue slicing during commercial breaks. 

7:18 pm.  I remembered I needed to set up an elaborate drip catching system to prevent a repeat from last year’s smoking oven and the little lady that lives in the smoke detector shouting, “fire!  fire!”  No berry juice is getting through my layers of aluminum foil and pizza pan. 

7:30 pm.  The berries are assembled and in a bowl.  Now on to the pie crust.  I was real nervous, but it wasn’t too bad.  I used a piece of parchment paper and drew a circle that was about 1.5 inches bigger than my pie pan.  Then I sprinkled on some flour.  Probably way too much flour.  But that’s what the first try is for, right?  I rolled it out, starting in the center of the dough, and rolled away from me.  I then rotated the whole thing to do the next section.  I repeated this until my crust was big enough.  I loosely rolled the crust over my rolling pin to safely transfer it to the pie pan.  Success! 

8:00 pm.  Modern family is on.  Clearly the pie and I are taking a break. 

8:30 pm.  I rolled out the top crust, put the berries in, worried over whether there was enough filing, threw in a few more raspberries, topped it, read online how to close ‘er up, then threw it in the over.  Before I closed the oven door I whispered, “Good luck, little buddy!”

8:41 pm.  I call my sister to see how the fizzy jello is coming, since I know that is a big Thanksgiving undertaking.  Fortunately it all went well.  She questions why my pie is taking so incredibly long to make.  I assure her it is my nervousness to begin each step of the recipe which results in stalling and watching the tv.  If I actually just made the pie instead of daydreaming about how I will mess it up, it would go much faster.

9:12 pm.  50 more seconds until my pie is done!  Life is so exciting.
9:13 pm.  There is some debate in my mind and in my heart whether the pie is done.  Maybe I’ll give her a couple more minutes.
9:14 pm.  Now I realize that the pie crust which looks to still be doughy is actually just very sugary due to my lack of sprinkling skills.  I officially take my pie out of the oven and proclaim it, “DONE!” 

Thursday at 11:51 am.  I am enroute to Thanksgiving.  Some of the “pie juice” is attempting to escape the confines of the pie.  Seeing that I driving the car (with wet fingernails) I am powerless to do anything except verbally coax the pie to calm down.

12:16 pm.  My sister declares the juice running across the top of the pie to be artistic.

2:01 pm.  The pie is eaten and proclaimed delicious by all.  My grandpa even liked my crust!  Sigh of happy relief.  I now consider myself a pie master.  Please see me for all your pie needs.

Pie Crust Recipe

Pie Recipe

Where should I buy my Christmas tree?

If you live in the Twin Cities and are asking yourself that question, you are in luck!  I have a great answer for you.  (scroll to the bottom for tree lot information)

Growing up in a family that had an artificial Christmas tree for 99% of my life, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up to work at my cousin’s tree lot. 

I learned a lot.

  1. My cousin’s lot sells three main types of trees.  Fraser Firs, Balsam, and Canaan Firs.
  2. I learned the difference between these three types of trees.  Fraser Firs are like the Cadillac of Christmas trees.  The hold tightly onto their needles instead of sharing as many with your carpeting.  Balsam trees smell like Christmas.  Canaan Firs are the best of both worlds – fragrant, but not quite as fragrant as the Balsam, hold onto their needles, but not quite as well as the Frasers.
  3. There are lots of other options of what to buy.  I got a cute little wreath for my front gate!  I had four sizes of wreaths to choose from. 
  4. Some people know exactly what they want.  Others can browse for upwards of 400 minutes.
  5. Trees are sold by the foot.
  6. Some people are allergic to Christmas trees.  Let’s have a moment of silence for those people. 
  7. If you are putting it in water right when you get home, they will give your tree a fresh cut.  Trees are like people.  We get scabs over our cuts.  They cover their cuts with sap.  That is why you need to cut the bottom inch off before setting it up in your home.
  8. Speaking of sap, you should not carry a tree with bare hands and then put on fuzzy lined work gloves. You will end up with fuzzy lined hands.
  9. Christmas trees are not cared for by elves until they are magically dropped off at your front door.  This lot gets their trees from a Christmas tree farm in the Princeton/Cambridge area.
  10. Christmas trees prefer tap water over a steady diet of glitter, tinsel, and candy canes.  I know, I was surprised to find that out too. 

If you are buying a tree this year for your home, I would recommend you head out to the Timber Bay Tree Lot in Minnetonka on the corner of 101 and Hwy 7 – in the parking lot on the strip mall with Caribou and Breuggers – across 101 from Target.

The best part of purchasing your tree here is that all of the money goes towards Timber Bay – a ministry that invests in the youth of Minnesota and Iowa.  My cousin Eric, who is running the lot, has worked for several years with Timber Bay’s Minnetonka program.

Timber Bay’s Website

Timber Bay’s Tree Lot Facebook Page 

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

I started my Thanksgiving off bright and early with a trip to the airport to drop off my roommate.  I told her that the timing works out well, because I have a lot to be thankful for, so I need to get my Thanksgiving started early.

As usual, I had two Thanksgivings this year, so I thought we could see how they compare.

We will refer to them throughout the post as “Kindergarten Thanksgiving” and “Real Thanksgiving”.  In case the names are not self-explanatory, Kindergarten Thanksgiving refers to the day before Thanksgiving at Kindergarten, and Real Thanksgiving refers to the real Thanksgiving Day.

Let the comparing and contrasting commence:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We viewed pictures of past parades and checked the forecast for this year’s parade.  We then wrote and drew and the things we would need to pack for our trip to NYC based on the weather and our planned activities.

Real Thanksgiving: I watched the parade with some friends while doing things that involve the letter C: drinking coffee, eating caramel rolls, and peeling clementines.  It was mostly a magical morning.

The Attire:

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We wore pilgrim hats and bonnets. 

Real Thanksgiving: I may or may not have once again worn the above pictured clothing.  It is my Thanksgiving outfit?  Surprisingly enough, no one was wearing pilgrim hats.  What a disappointment.  Scarves were the common attire.  Even little Fiona was wearing a scarf.  She wins for most adorable outfit though.  Babies tend to do that.

The Table: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: I pushed all the tables together into one long table and covered it with fallish colored papers.  In the words of one student, “It’s so beautiful!”  (this is not actually true. It was festive in the lamest sense of the word)

Real Thanksgiving: Lots of the cousins were off celebrating with the in-laws, so we all fit around one table together!  No kids’ table for us to be banished to… it was a new experience.

The Movie: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  They loved it.  “Miss K- that was kind of funny!”

Real Thanksgiving: To end our day, we went to my parents house and watched Tangled.  We try and keep it family-friendly for our 20s-30s crowd.

The Food: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: In true Charlie Brown fashion, we ate popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans.  

Real Thanksgiving: We had all the Thanksgiving staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, fizzy green jello, stuffing, and Dad’s secret family recipe for eskimo pie.

The Thankfulness: 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving: We passed the sparkly microphone around the table and all shared what we are thankful for.  This year we were thankful for “my whole friends”, Mario, family, and their teacher.  My highlight is always watching them smile as I go around the table and personally tell each child that I am thankful for them.

Real Thanksgiving: You will probably be surprised to hear that no sparkly microphone was passed around.  But I’d take a wild guess and say we all could have listed things we are thankful for – we are pretty blessed 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Football Desserts

Once a year, my church has a great event called the Chili Bowl – it combines two great American past times: chili and football.  We usually have it when the Vikings are playing Monday night football.  This year’s game was kind of a big deal: Vikings vs. Packers.

I signed up to bring a dessert (or two) to the game, and naturally I thought, “hmm… what can I make that would be cute and delicious and make football fans everywhere happy?”

I came up with two ideas, then conned my sisters Rachel and Rachel into baking with me.

Item #1: Football shaped cookie dough truffles.  Delicious?  Yes.  Simple?  Yes.  Time consuming?  Yes.  Awesome?  Yes.  You can follow this recipe from Annie’s Eats.  To make the football shape, I rolled the circle and smushed it a bit, then shaped the ends into points.  I’m sure those precise directions will be helpful to you as you venture into the world of football cookie dough truffles.  For the lacing, I just used a little white melting chocolate.

Item #2  Team Colored Homemade Oreos.

Homemade oreos are amazing.  There is no way around it.  It is just the truth.

They are even better if you roll the outsides in team colored sprinkles.

Speaking of sprinkles, you will be happy to know that I did not spill sprinkles all over Rachel’s kitchen this time. Not that that every has happened before.  And not that they bounced everywhere, to be still turning up weeks later. Nope, none of that has ever happened.

Idea: you could replicate this magic for the super bowl.   But with different colors.  Because the Vikings will not be playing.  My football care factor is at about 17%, and even I can tell you that.

Item #3 Ghetto Folding Chairs.

Ok, this is not a baked good. You are absolutely correct.  I can’t fool you.  However, there is a mildly amusing story here.

After Friday’s baking extravaganza, I realized I’d left their house without my jacket.  I couldn’t be bothered to stop by until Monday on my way home from work.  When I went in, Rachel said, “Oh, and take your folding chairs!  I put them by the door.”  To which I said, “Pass.  I will let you guys keep them here!  It is your lucky day.”  To which David said, “Take them!”  To which I shouted, “You can’t make me!”  After which I ran out the door.*

I got home and was about to leave for the chili bowl, when my phone said, “Laura, you have an email!”  So I read the email, and it was my pastor saying, “We could really use folding chairs!  So bring some!”

So alas, to David and Rachel’s I returned to collect my folding chairs from 1932.**

*The actual words of our conversation may be slightly dramatized.  It all happened so fast, I can’t recall what exactly was said. But that is the gist.

**The chairs may or may not be from 1932.  Trust me though, when I say people are confused, then amazed when I teach them how to set up the chairs.  Chair technology has come a long ways in the past 70 years…

 

the cutest couple on the block

After posting the out takes, I promised you that I would consider sharing some good pics from last week’s frigid, but fun, photoshoot of Rachel, David and Bear (not to be confused with a real bear, which would be a much scarier photo op).

Although I’m fairly certain you have been looking forward to this moment for days now, just in case you haven’t been on the edge of your seat for this update, let me give you some other things to look forward to later this week:

  • football desserts
  • a field trip to the science museum
  • a kindergarten thanksgiving
  • delicious cupcakes and angry grocery store experiences
  • first time making a pie: so much potential for awesomeness, disaster, or some combination of the two.

And now, here are some of my favorite pics from the day!

“Oh, self…”

Sometimes this is what I say to myself when I question how I get myself into embarrassing, awkward, or just ridiculous situations.  (Which I tend to do on a fairly regular basis). One of which I am choosing to not blog about, but will gladly tell you of my embarrassment if you ask me in person 🙂

One of my biggest downfalls is my general lack of coordination in life.  I bruise like a peach, and bruise fairly often due to my extreme clumsiness.  (Walking into walls or doorframes is not altogether uncommon for me).

Today, I was giving the Sunday school kids directions for a new game in the gym (a game I wasn’t entirely sure I actually understood the rules to, despite the best explanatory efforts of my fav first grader) when I glanced down and saw that the bottom of my long necklace had dropped entirely into my cup of coffee that I had been clutching onto for dear life.

Naturally I did not just ignore the situation and continue talking, but rather said something to the effect of, “oh, excuse me a moment children while I take my necklace out of my coffee” which they all thought was hilarious.  And let’s be honest, it was.

With no napkins handy, and still feeling rather in need of caffeine, I slurped the coffee off the beads and continued on with my directions.

Oh, self…

Kindergartners, you make my day

This morning I had a meeting to be at when the kids arrived, so I came into the classroom when the students had already arrived.

Three children quickly made their way to my desk.  The first asked to sing me a song.  If you know me, my answer to that is always YES, PLEASE.

She sang for me -the lyrics were fairly simple: “I love you Miss K-” on repeat.  It also involved swaying to the music in her heart and giving me a hug and then singing to me while giving me a hug.  Epic.

The next child had a picture for me.  Obviously the tall girls are the teachers: Mrs. B is holding the flowers and I am holding the balloons.  The little girl is clearly her little sister.

She later came up to me and said, “My mom said to give you this because I love you.”  and she handed me a quarter and a fake penny.  Now that says love.

The third child had a Thanksgiving gift for me.  Adorable?  Yes.  

I wasn’t too sure how today would be – it is full of meetings, observations, and weird scheduling.  But now I can confidently say today is going to be great.

 

Pet portraits? no. Family Christmas Pics with the puppy? yes.

Today I will share with you some pictures that will make you cry.  Or maybe they just made me cry because the cold wind was blowing in my eyes when I trying to take pictures and when I took the camera away from my face, there would be tears streaming down.Driving home from Iowa (ok, we were in Minneapolis at the time) we saw a car that was advertising they do painted pet portraits.  I thought about getting one for David and Rachel for Christmas, but then decided that just taking their little family pictures would be easier, and probably cheaper too.  I mean, I don’t know how much it costs to have a pet’s portrait painted, but I’m guessing it isn’t cheap.  Unless of course the artist uses a paint by numbers from Hobby Lobby that happens to be the correct breed for your dog.

If you are ever given the opportunity to take a picture of a cute couple and their adorable dog, you should totally do it.  However, I would recommend taking at least 200 pictures.  Here are 12-18 of the reasons why. (feel free to click on any of the pictures to view if larger… I just didn’t want to force you to scroll for 25 miles in order to read this post)

one possible solution... hide the dog behind you!

so much for that idea!

David's expression is my favorite here.

Bear is not even in the picture...

well, no more shoe close ups for David...

why must you bite your lip, silly puppy?!

This is my favorite. Please click to see it big, so you can fully appreciate Bear having wrapped his leash around David and Rachel...

Maybe if you say please, I will show you a nice picture someday soon.  Because we managed to power through Bear’s lack of picture etiquette and get some great shots.

(although next time, I might recommend a pre- photobooth practice session on a mac… it worked for my other clients…)

Ok… I will share one.  I caved.  But only because it is a good one for closing…

The Wind

We read this book.  As you might guess from the title, it is called, “The Wind.”  I told them we were reading the book so we could learn more about what the wind could do.  The things were learned were a lot different than what I planned for us to learn.

For example, on this page, we learned that the wind blows so that we can make a wish.  On this page, we learned that the wind blows the sky.  Not the kites.  The sky. 

“We have clouds for all the die people” 

And most importantly, on this page, we learned that my student’s father is clearly a guided reading book model, as she is kept pointing to this picture and exciting shouting, “my dad!”