Simple Super Bowl Stadium Meal

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For the Super Bowl, I made a simplified version of a food stadium.  There were many ideas on the internet, and many of them bragged that it would cost only $25 or less to build the stadium (not counting the food).  I decided to look in the cupboard and pulled out lots of bread pans and other bowls and plates and made my own for absolutely free (not counting the food).

I also made the food quite simple, with a few treats thrown in. The little sandwiches were peanut butter and jelly, and plain peanut butter.  I made a pot of home-made chili and some turkey hot dogs.  Some people had chili dogs and some just ate hot dogs.  There were lots of veggies, and the bowl with the orange lid held simple dip.  On the left were pickle rolls–lunchmeat with cream cheese and a pickle, a family favorite that makes my crew feel like it is a special day.  My niece lined the soda cans up on the sides and said they were the people watching the game.  She had fun helping “build” the stadium. The guacamole in the middle was supposed to be the field.  I also made baked potato skins with bacon, green onions and cheese, but they were over on the stove for people to grab, along with the hot dogs.  I made some brownies from a mix I had, and put them in the one bread pan that is empty in the picture above.

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I was able to pull a lot of the food from the pantry, and people brought lots of chips.  Soda was only $2.50/box, and of course, hot dogs and chili are very inexpensive to serve.  Peanut butter sandwiches, using bread I got on the clearance rack were well received.  It’s a perfect example of how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an occasion special, and everyone had a great time.

The party was just a small one, and the food was what we ate for Family Sunday Dinner.  Some of the family was out of town, but my niece brought a few friends, so there were extra kids, which always adds life to a party.  Later in the afternoon, when the game itself was on, most of the family were already gone, and my husband watched it to his heart’s content.

It was a fun, simple party and everyone had fun!  I’m glad I did it.

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Christmas Fun–Creative Gift Giving–2017

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On almost every occasion, Rob finds a way to spice up the gift-giving.  At least one niece or nephew often gets their present wrapped super creatively.  Sometimes he uses duct tape, wooden boxes nailed shut, loads of pennies instead of money, dollar bills taped into a long strip or rolled into a wrapping paper tube, etc.  This year was no exception.  He froze Alissa’s gift card in a block of ice.  It was actually a dummy card-not loaded, in case the water damaged it.  He gave her a new one once she got it out.  To make the joke funnier, unbeknownst to him, my sister and nephew froze HIS gift card in a block of ice infused with gummy fish, since it was a gift card to Cabelas to put towards his fishing license.  Since neither side knew what the other was doing, it was super funny, and there were several good-natured comments such as “payback” and “serves you right.”  🙂

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My sister, Gail, never has any spoons in her drawer when we go over there, for various reasons.  So, we did the 12 Spoons of Christmas for her.  Rob rounded up as many spoons as he could find from Goodwill on 2 trips and we finished with plastic ones.  There were 12 labeled, wrapped gifts for her, starting with 1 Spoon for the Christmas Tree.  It was a spoon with a bunch of gaudy decorations glued to it, and a hanger to make it into an ornament.

The 2nd Day was 2 Turtle Spoons.  2 spoons were taped to a package of Turtle candy.

The 3 French spoons were decoratively placed into a French fry sleeve, inserted into floral foam

4 Calling spoons were taped to a very old cell phone.

5 Spoony rings are in the picture.  Rob bent them into rings.  See how well they fit?  So fashionable!

6 spoons a-laying were just 6 spoons taped into a 1/2 egg carton.

7 Spoons a-swimming were dangling from a swim-suit hanger, surrounded by raindrops and empty water bottles.  Of course, there was a shower cap, which my sister immediately put on!  Patsy did a great job drawing the raindrops.

8 Spoons a-milking were 8 spoons taped to a rice milk carton.

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9, 10, and 11 were spoons Pipe-cleanered together for spoons a-piping, Spoons a-leaping (doing the long jump), and spoons a-dancing (a very decorative mobile for their new remodel).  All of these gifts are just awful, of course, and will never be used for decorations:)

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The last one was 12 spoony Hawaiian drummers drumming.  12 spoons were taped to a huge, Costco bag of brown sugar and palm trees and a drum were drawn by Patsy.  This was another joke, because my niece had bought 12 pounds of brown sugar recently, and brought it home to her mom.  It was on sale so she thought she should get several, but that was a lot, so we’ve been joking about how she was going to use up that much!  So we bought her some more:) Everyone was roaring with laughter as she unwrapped each elegantly wrapped gift and she really hammed it up, making it more fun.

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Another fun addition to the party was a Saran Wrap ball game.  This was a twist on the old “unwrap the package” game that we have played for years.  (In that game, you wrap and wrap and wrap a small gift and then people unwrap when the music plays and pass it around when the music is going until someone gets the gift.  Sometimes there are candies in-between the layers that fall out and people get it as well).  This was a little different.  My niece wrapped many, many gifts in many, many yards of plastic wrap, encasing each gift with a few more layers.  The ball was quite large when she finished. The rules were:  The guy in front of you had dice and rolled until he or she got doubles.  You could unwrap the Saran Wrap until the doubles were rolled.  You could not rip, tear, or use a pocketknife.  The ends were hard to find as the wrap had been cut frequently.  So, sometimes it took your whole turn to find an end that could be unwrapped.  When doubles were rolled, you had to pass the ball on for the next guy’s turn.  There were all kinds of goodies my sister and brother-in-law had gathered up.  There were charger cords, dollar bills, candy galore, little flashlights, gum, survival gear, and other super fun prizes.  We had a great time with that, although in the end, after the kids robbed me blind of some of my little prizes, I did end up with a $1 bill to keep:).

You may notice one niece with a tablet.  My niece, Rachel, in Ireland, joined us for the game via Skype!  Caitlyn was sure to take a turn for her frequently.  Technology is so cool sometimes!

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We all gave and received many great gifts this Christmas.  But, I venture to say, the joke ones will remain in our memories for quite a while along with the more “serious” ones.  I will also say that everyone who helped with the joke gifts got as much enjoyment out of thinking them up them as the receiver did getting them, and that’s the best kind of creative gift in my mind–fun all around.

 

Did you do any creative gift giving this year?  Or do you plan to for upcoming birthdays? We are always open to new ideas, as long as its all good, clean fun and the kids still get the present in the end.  I’d love some new ideas to add to the mixture.

 

 

Holiday Fun

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Alissa had a contest at one of her holiday parties on Wednesday.  She was supposed to look the most “Christmasy.”  She spent quite a bit of time sewing the fake tree on her Goodwill sweater, and then hung it with candy ornaments right before the party!  Silly, and fun.  She won 2nd place:)

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Ja’Ana had a little tap dance show for the parents tonight after her class.  It lasted about 5 minutes, but it was cute!

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Today was our last day of homeschool and tomorrow the public schoolers will finish up until January 2nd.  We just finished studying Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and so we watched the movie today.  They ate chips, cookies and popcorn and colored in a big coloring book Alissa got for her white elephant gift exchange.  We only had 2 assignments, plus a long math session,  beyond that to finish up, and I’m assigning no homework for the 2 weeks we have off.  While they watched it, I wrapped a bunch of presents.  I feel like I’m gaining on that project of Christmas presents.  I plan to wrap again this weekend, and then I’ll know what I still need to get.

Although it is crazy-busy, I do feel that we are getting time for some enjoyment this holiday season.  We have been lighting the advent candles several times a week and reading some scriptures and doing a few advent activities.  Instead of trying to get to that with every person, every day, I just go with whoever I’ve got at the moment.  So, I may read/do activities with J and Alissa some days, Patsy others, and on Sunday afternoons, Jake now wants to light the candles and he made a little “ornament” for our paper advent tree stating the Jesus was bron. So cute! He asked me today if we could light them again next Sunday afternoon.  Of course we can!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

FC514CB2-830E-4A36-BA2F-6CD18AFC1649We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with 20 people sharing the day at our house.  I had a few anxious thoughts about where they were all going to sit, but it all worked out beautifully once I figured things out.

We set up a table in front of our fireplace.  Luckily the day was so warm that I did not have to build a fire, so those guests did not get roasted:)  In the garage, I put an extra leaf in the table that stays out there and put some tv trays by the chairs.  I also put extra chairs and tv trays where ever there was a corner.  Lastly, I broke my “don’t eat on the couch” rule, and no one spilled.  Patsy’s room became the play room, and the kids played games in there.

We had SO much food!  We had all the traditional foods, with a few twists.  I cooked the turkey on Tuesday, and just warmed it up.  The potatoes, though, I mashed that morning, and made gravy.  Our family loves potatoes, and we ate the entire 10 lbs!

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Then we took off for a couple of days of camping at the beach.  No matter how rainy and wet, we still love it!  And, boy did it turn out to be rainy and wet!!  Last night, Rob had to get up around midnight and put the awning in, it was so windy.  Then, a little later in the night, the power went out.  He got up again to change the water heater to propane, the the fridge does it by itself. Then it came back on, and woke us up again.  We drove home today, very slowly and safely, wishing we had a couple more days because we needed a nap!!!

We took Jake with us, as he has been longing to go camping for months.  This morning, he was already asking when the next camping trip would be.  We stayed inside for the most part, watching movies, reading books.  The kids did lots of craft kits and  Legos.

The sad news is that my main computer crashed   It’s in the shop.  So, my phone will have to do for now, and I find blogging much harder.  (Note:  The phone did not work at all, nothing posted, there just was not any reception there in most places, so I’m now switched out to an old computer that we had at home and am making a better post.  Sadly, this computer will not do pictures, so I have to use the one poor one I was able to load on my phone, plus there are old pictures I can use.  But, no new ones from this trip until the good computer comes home.)  Hopefully, it will be fixed soon.  (Note:  It’s fixed.  We lost the entire hard drive and everything on it.  I’m bummed.  We can pick it up whenever we can drive up there–a day or two)

 

 

 

A Simple, Home-made Halloween–2017

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Yesterday, we celebrated Halloween.  Now, I must confess, Halloween is both Rob and my least favorite holiday.  For many, many years, we hosted an alternative harvest party of some sort, took the kids to one at church, or just did our own thing that night.  One time, in 20 years, we took the kids, including the nieces and nephew, trick-or-treating and we were completely worn out by the end, so we did not do it again.  To be fair, we tried to take them to every relative that lived within an hour’s drive of each other–lots of places, really far apart, nursing homes included, etc.   We were driving for hours, unloading them, visiting, and off again.  They were little, and it was just plain a lot of work.  All the relatives did enjoy the costumes, especially the elderly relatives who were in homes.  So, we went back to our regular ways.

However, when we got Patsy 4 years ago, Halloween was one of her most favorite things–a rare, good memory of times with her birth mother, a special evening she much looked forward to, a MAJOR BIG DEAL to her.  So, we decided that we would try to let her have some fun on that day/night, in a way we could all enjoy.  We saw no reason to remove one of the few happy memories/traditions she had from her past, but we did want to change the focus a bit from scary, gory, and dark to light, happy and fun.  In other words, keep the fun part, get rid of the rest.  To be truthful, we still don’t like Halloween much, but we do like our daughter and her feelings more than we don’t like Halloween, if you get what I mean.

For the past few years, we have spent the evening with the cousins.

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This year, Patsy was a princess, using an old dress I made years ago for Ja’Ana.  Alissa dressed up in her pajamas.  She recently got a job at a daycare for 2-1/2 hours each afternoon, and they were having the toddlers and staff wear pajamas Tuesday.  Jake, is Darth Vader, in a pair of pajamas, a cape, a mask and a light saber.  Just don’t call him that!  His name is Jake, and he is still under there, in case I was wondering:)

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Last year, Uncle Rob started a tradition with Michaela.  She really, really wants to be involved with the whole trick-or-treat project, but after all, she is 20 now.  Kind of old.  So, she and Uncle got a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and drove around, following Jake and his helpers (anyone who would get out of the van and take him up to doors, from his sister Caitlyn, to Alissa, and of course, Patsy).  This year, he also had Heath bars, Snickers, assorted candy, and Starburst in the van for all of the, well, helpers?  This year, again, she scarfed down candy, this time with Lovana (who isn’t actually eating much candy right now, to be fair to her), Caitlyn, Alissa, Ja’Ana, J’s friend Angel, Patsy……. Yes, a party in the van, all for the sake of Jake and Michaela.  Of course, Jake and Michaela.  Anything for Jake and Michaela.  Lots of eager volunteers for this task:)

Earlier in the day, Michaela and I had cut out the pumpkin cookies, and baked them.  Jake was offered the opportunity of decorating them, but he was too excited for the party to start.  So, Caitlyn and I decorated them.  My sister made a taco bar, and we had everyone eat dinner before Uncle took off with them.  I stayed back at the house with my sister and brother-in-law,  handing out candy.  It was fun to see the kids in their costumes, and admire the pumpkins my niece had carved.

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The kids coming up to the door enjoyed them, too, and she received a lot of compliments on her carving, which I passed on to her when she got back.

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Patsy lit up her pumpkin as soon as we got home.  It’s about done for, already, but that’s ok.  Another Halloween is past, and now we are moving forward towards Thanksgiving, one of my absolute favorite holidays in the whole world.  I can’t wait.

Happy 4th of July

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I started the day with a red, white and blueberry muffin (gluten-free muffins made with blueberries and raspberries) and put on my blue denim skirt, red shirt, and red, white and blue sweater vest and necklace.  I then proceeded to have a wonderful 4th of July, doing things I liked and wanted to do–a perfect holiday.

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We drove up to Portland to have breakfast with some of Lovana and Ja’Ana’s birth siblings/family members.  We went to a restaurant named the Gateway Breakfast House. I had never been there before, but I guess President Obama ate there when he visited Portland.  We waited quite a while, which was fine because it gave the kids a chance to visit.  It was a beautiful, sunny day–perfect for hanging around outside and taking pictures.  When we got in, it was quite small inside, and not fancy at all.  They had both breakfast and lunch items and, because we were with such a large group, I was able to see quite a few menu items.  The omelets and hamburgers were enormous!  We had a great time, both with the company we were with, and the chance to try a new restaurant.  We had the pleasure to sit near the little guy, and boy was he entertaining:)  And super cute:)

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Then, we drove home.  We are listening to an audio book named “Hattie Big Sky” and are enjoying it very much.  We got to hear a lot of it today, since we were in the car so long.  On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new vertical blind for the front window.  It’s been broken for some time now, and won’t shut all the way anymore.  We’ve been putting up with it, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the other night when a salesman came up to the door when I was in my bathrobe, sitting on the couch, and PEERED into the crack left by the broken blind (about 6 inches) and then rang the doorbell.  I politely, but firmly told him to go away, and told Rob that we were getting a new blind ASAP!  It’s on order, but it will come soon, and Rob plans to install it.

 

When I got home, I indulged myself in some sewing, purely for fun.  I don’t get to sew much anymore, due to my busy schedule, but still love to sew.  So, I finished a sundress I had been working on for a while, for Patsy, and then made this little summer dress for a little friend.  I had worked on Patsy’s dress on our camping trip, but forgot to bring an iron, so had a little to finish up here at home.   I was able to use fabric I had on hand for both dresses, and lots of rick rack from my stash for the little one.   img_4867.jpg

During the evening, I went out and picked a few flowers and messed around in the garden for a little bit.  I will do a garden update soon, since it’s growing so well now.  Rob took Lovana back to her job.  It’s official now, Saturday is her last day.  As is is, the job lasted almost 6 weeks past when she thought it was going to, so she’s great with that.

Then, the neighborhood exploded into a loud and smoky display as we saw many, many fireworks exploding all around us.  I was surprised to see lots of the big, blooming, ariel (illegal) ones exploding in the sky all around us.  Beautiful. I just wasn’t expecting it in the city of Salem.  Clearly, there is no need to drive to any display when we’ve got all that from our back yard:)   Rob and Patsy did their little pile, and then Patsy sat on the deck and enjoyed the show for at least an hour.  Judging from all the bangs and pops still emitting from the neighborhood outside, I doubt I’ll be sleeping any time soon, but I had a great day.  I have another fun day to look forward to tomorrow, starting with a birthday breakfast with my mom, so I think it’s my lucky week:)  (Last night we had a bbq for my niece who is back from Ireland for only 1 week). Although I miss Jake since he’s on vacation with his mom and dad, I’ve welcomed the time to spend time with other family members this week.

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day and a Birthday

Yesterday, we did Home Economics. 2 cakes were made.  First, as a group, we mixed up a double batch of Gluten-free sour cream chocolate cake batter.  The girls cut out waxed paper to fit into the bottom of the pans and then sprayed them with non-stick spray.  The cake layers were baked.  They came out of the pans easily with the waxed paper liner.

After they were cooled, they frosted them with chocolate buttercream frosting and decorated them however they wanted with the supplies they could find in the garage.  They did great!

Ja’Ana’s cake was for her dad, for Valentine’s Day.

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Alissa’s cake was for her mom (the G is for Gail) for her birthday, which is the day after Valentine’s Day.

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I was amazed at how nice they looked!  Of course, we are all helping Rob eat his, and it tastes great!  We even got about 6 or 8 cupcakes as well from the leftover batter.  It made a lot.

We went down to the farm store and bought some flowers and some potting soil.  We used a pot I had, and the girls planted flowers in it as a birthday gift from all of us.  They chose the colors carefully and it turned out great.  They also got a flower for my aunt (their great aunt), and some chocolates for Grandma.  Last evening, Alissa babysat her siblings so her parents could go out for dinner for Valentine’s and got up super early to give her mom breakfast in bed for her birthday.

It was a gorgeous day, and I love how we spent it.