Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some HOT Pizza!

A couple days ago, Ellie and I joined Pete and 3 of our friends at Flying Pie Pizzeria for some delicious pizza. Ellie and I were smart enough to stick to good ole pepperoni, but Pete, Justin, Scott and Kristin were crazy enough to go for the Habanero pizza with chicken, garlic and cream cheese (Justin and Pete had been planning this for awhile as Flying Pie only offers their special Habanero pizzas occasionally...and August was one of those months!). 

Ellie and I watched them take their first few bites, then proceed to sweat and down their waters like crazy people:o) (other than Kristin, who I think just might be the toughest of the hats off to you Kristin...I was truly impressed!) Although I must say that I was equally impressed by three young boys and one young girl sitting behind us who were also all eating the Habanero pizza...and they too seemed to fare a little better than the 3 guys at our table...who after downing 5 pieces of pie each looked like they'd just spent 3 hours in a sauna:o)!!!

Justin and Ellie

Pete and Justin's first bites 

Pete after the first bite!

Kristin and Scott

Although looking a bit afraid...
 kudos to Kristin...wish I was half as tough!

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Easy Lemon Cookie Recipe

As you may have noticed, up until yesterday I hadn't blogged in awhile. Our church (actually a small church plant) decided that for the month of August we would fast and pray for our neighbors (as this is the reason we all moved here--to make connections in our neighborhoods and share the gospel with people). So each week of August, I have given up something different  (fasting helps remind us to pray too)...and last week it was Internet for me (other than email) I was spending WAY to much time online...mostly "just looking" at stuff. Well, I wasn't perfect, but I did pretty well, and thus I didn't post to my blog at all last week. It's amazing what else I was able to get done (more time spent with Ellie, I read a couple books, and was able get my house really clean!). 

Both books I read were murder mysteries by Joanne Fluke. I love murder mysteries, and these are really "clean" books too, so I really enjoy them (this is kinda hard to find in the murder mystery genre). PLUS she includes lots of recipes in her books (mostly cookies!!) which I think is just awesome! 

So yesterday I tried out a new cookie from her "Candy Cane Murder" book.

They were so simple (only 4 ingredients) and so yummy (really light and refreshing for summer).

1 package (approx. 18 oz) lemon cake mix (for a 9x13 pan)
2 cups Cool Whip (8 oz container)
1 large beaten egg (just whip it in a glass with a fork)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (in a separate bowl)

Combine dry cake mix, Cool Whip and beaten egg in a large bowl. Stir till it's well mixed.

Drop by teaspoon into bowl of powdered sugar and roll to coat the cookie dough.

Place the coated cookie drops on a greased cookie sheet, 12 cookies to a sheet.

Bake at 350 F for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool for about 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Make approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was Ellie's first day of Kindergarten (I seriously can't believe she's old enough to be going to public school)! When she and I went to the "Sneak Peek" the day before, she was not too excited about this whole kindergarten thing...she was clinging to me for dear life (I even had to be in the photo with her that her teacher took--I'm praying the teacher crops me out of it!!:o))...and had a look of terror in her eyes almost the entire time we were at the school (but it was a little crazy there with so many grade school students and parents and teachers, so I don't really blame her) I was seriously dreading having to drop her off and leave her. BUT Pete actually took the whole day off work and went with us, and talk about a total different girl (he definitely brings "peace" to our little girl---he's such a great daddy!). There were no problems---no fit pitching, no clinging, no look of terror...I was amazed and so glad that he was there to help both Ellie and me through this day!

Here's tear streaks...just smiles. A-MAZ-ING!

Then afterwards when we picked her up, she told us all about her day and she and Pete played "school" (she was the teacher). She also had a little homework assignment that he helped her with too called "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" and these were some of her answers...(so cute!)

My favorite things to do are...swimming, building forts, brushing my dog (oh darn, there for a second I almost thought she was going to say brushing my......teeth).
My favorite color (huh? just like her mama because well, black is "slimming", but for her it's because Loretta (our dog) is black!).
My favorite foods are...bean with bacon soup (truly one of the only "good" things she'll eat;o)).
My favorite time of day is...before bedtime. (well yeah...duh!!:o))
My favorite treats are...apples and granola bars (good answer...although I'd bet she really likes cookies more, just like me, but this is a GREAT answer!;o))
My favorite book is...Dog Fashion (funny, but probably's a picture book of these cute little dogs with outrageous outfits on...where you feel sorry for the dogs who have crazy enough owners to subject them to the humility of wearing crazy ridiculous outfits...but hey, yes, I bought it for her).

Anyway...I really enjoyed reading (and giggling at) her answers.

(Oh, and...wish me luck today dropping her off to school...I'm alone this time, and really hoping it goes as well as yesterday!)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Ellie's Up to Today...

Ellie's currently working on a book full of animal drawings...I actually think she has better drawing skills than I do...take a look!
Love how she has all her crayons separated by that reminds me of...well, me!;o)

Giraffe and baby
Lion and cub

My July/August Layout

I started working on this layout from Ellie's "Princess Camp" experience last summer before I went to Bend, but it just didn't feel complete. If I had completed it in July, it would have been my only "personal" layout  that I finished that month. But, nope, I can't even say that because I didn't finish it till today. Sad, but true (I hope it's not my only layout this month--ugh!)! I really wish I could find more time to scrapbook, but other things just come first.

As I said, I started this a few weeks ago (it looked completely different when I started...and I did NOT like it at all (and was sure I'd have to reprint photos and start completely over again--but the photos weren't even that great--kinda blurry). So I walked away from it for quite awhile--to me that's better than having a page I don't like at all! A few days later I completely rearranged the photos and got out my scalloped circle punches in hopes of salvaging the photos (and it actually helped I think, because imperfect photos always seem to look better smaller:o)). That was before I left for our Bend vacation, but even with some help and input from Pete (he really is very helpful to bounce ideas off of, and he's always very honest) I still wasn't loving it so much. When I came back from my trip, I decided to try a few more things like adding some small butterflies and a "double scalloped" edge (scalloped edge border plus multi-patterned paper circles to create a larger scalloped border too). That seemed to have done the trick, and I think I'm done now! 

So that's my advice...if you find yourself "stuck" on a page...walk away from it for awhile (aka...a day or two or seven:o)) (you may even have to walk-away a couple times), then come back and try a fresh approach or add a few items. 

Here's the final result:
Patterned Paper and "Believe in Yourself" Die Cut (My Mind's Eye), Light Blue Cardstock-Bazzill Basics, Large Butterflies (Die Cut Paper-KI Memories), Small Butterfly Punch (Martha Stewart Crafts), Clear Bling Swirls (Colorbok at Target), Pink Bling-(Queen & Co. at Craft Warehouse), Blue Bling (Colorbok), Pink and Blue Buttons (My Stash), Pink Ribbon (Michaels), Scalloped Punches (Marvy Uchida), Circle Punch (McGill),  Scalloped Edge Punch (Stampin' Up), Inks & Ink Dauber (Close to My Heart)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Bend Trip-The End

Like I said in yesterday's post "Our Bend Trip-Part Two", I'm saving the best for last!

This little adventure was a favorite for all of us, I think. 

Pete had heard about Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch on a "Focus on the Family" radio show years ago, and has wanted to go visit ever since. On our last trip (when we were just passing through Bend to get to the coast), we weren't able to go. But this time, he made sure that we got to go visit.

Crystal Peaks (just a few miles north of Bend) is an organization that rescues abused and dying horses and pairs them with children in need. Troy and Kim Meeder run the ranch and Kim has written 3 books (I've read the first two, and they are some of the BEST books I've ever read--the stories will bring you to tears, but are so awe-inspiring and full of God's hope!!) called Hope Rising, Bridge Called Hope, and Blind Hope. Troy has also written a book called Average Joe. 

So, we spent an afternoon visiting this awesome place!! Here are some photo highlights....
The sign that greeted us at the entrance to the ranch!

This cute little dwelling was the first thing we saw as we walked down the gravel road to the ranch. Troy and Kim bought this piece of land when it was just the remnant of a cinder pit. They have patiently and lovingly restored it into a beautiful place where horses and people are healed!

Ellie enjoyed her ride on this cute wooden horse!

One of the horses at the ranch. We got a tour of the ranch and were introduced to quite a few of the horses with details of where they had come from (many horrifying stories, but all with great endings:o)).

A view of the ranch...this is one of the ranch's arenas where an instructor works with a child and a horse. The ranch's program is special in that it almost always pairs one child with one horse, guided by one leader. All this is done free of charge--always! Just awesome!!

 Ellie enjoying a ride on this ingenious "horse-walker" swing for kids.

This old cowboy wood statue (sorta reminds me of my grandpa or as Ellie calls him, Opa Hat (because he's always got a cowboy hat on)) posed with Ellie and me in front of the tack room.

The ranch's well-organized wall of bridles in the tack room. Each of those names represents a horse saved--so inspiring!

As we were leaving (walking back down the gravel road to get to our car), this beautiful horse came to tell us good-bye!

Ellie got caught in a surprise good-bye "sniff". Too funny!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Bend Trip-Part Two

Here are some more of our photo highlights from our vacation to Bend, Oregon (if you haven't read "Part One", see that post first:o)).

Ellie lost her 2nd bottom front tooth on this trip. At first she was worried that the Tooth Fairy wouldn't find her in Bend, but we assured her that we had let TF know, and so when she lost the tooth (at a restaurant) she was pretty excited! The TF came to visit that night and left her one dollar (which she decided she must spend immediately!)

We thought a trip to the library for some book time might be fun. As soon as we hit the children's corner, Pete plopped down on this huge stuffed bear. I found him this great book that I thought he and Ellie would both enjoy, being that it was all about him:o). And he and Ellie had some great cuddle and "chill" time.

Drake Park in downtown Bend is such a lovely park. And there's a nice stretch of walking path along the Deschutes River to walk along and enjoy the scenery.

There were lots of ducks (including this sweet little duckling) at the park. 

And here's my "little duckling" :o) enjoying the park.

We also took a tour of the Deschutes Brewery where they brew and bottle all their beers, including Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It was neat to see the behind-the-scenes way that beer is made. And Pete really enjoyed the free samples!!

On our last day in Bend, there was a great classic car show in Drake Park. Pete loves classic cars (he has a 1965 Mustang convertible in our garage. It's beautiful, but he just needs to find some time (HA! Easier said than done) to finish the brakes then it will be drivable again) and they had so many neat cars to look at. We all really liked this one, and asked Ellie to pose in front of it (it was a little cold that morning...thus she's wearing my "too big for her" sweater).

And tomorrow...I'm saving the BEST for last, I'll share photos from one of our favorite things we did on our trip. Can't wait to share a story with you...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Bend Trip-Part One

We just got back from spending a week in Bend, Oregon (we took Pete's mom, "Nanny Carol", with us. Pete and I "discovered" Bend nine years ago on our way to our wedding/honeymoon on the Oregon coast, and this was our third time back. It's the neatest city...smaller (81,000) and beautiful (mountains, trees, beautiful parks) with the best restaurants ever (a seriously "foody" town!).  If you love doing outdoorsy things (ie..hiking, biking, kayaking, or skiing (Mt. Bachelor), it would be a perfect destination. But even if you just love shopping and eating:o)'s a great place to go! We had a great are some photo "highlights".

Our first days were spent at a resort (7th Mountain) that had 3 pools! We enjoyed our time lounging around the pool in the sun...the weather was beautiful and sunny almost the entire time we were there (there was just a short spurt--20 minutes--of torrential downpour that started with a hail storm--weird, but thankfully it was short!)
Ellie showed us she did learn how to swim in the "deep water" from her swimming lessons this definitely was not a polished crawl stroke, but she swam all the way across the pool for us (and I was so happy that the money I spent this summer on lessons was worth it!).

Here she was treading water...but wanted everyone to see she was doing it in the "deep" end!

These little chipmunks were everywhere around the pool area...cute little critters!!!

We also enjoyed shopping and eating out (not having to cook was such a huge treat!)
Here's Ellie and Nanny taking "Punky Monkey" on a shopping was Ellie's goal to find a new outfit for her monkey...and she and Nanny actually found a cute one (on a clearance rack at a kid's clothing store)---"Punky" apparently wears 0-3 month clothing, just in case you were wondering....

As for FOOD...we seriously didn't have a bad meal. Bend seriously rocks the restaurants! One of our new favorite's is 10 Barrel Brewpub. Pete had this Red Curry Thai Pizza that he just loved (even though I thought the idea of having curry and vegies on a pizza was a little strange, I have to admit, it was pretty scrumptious!)....
And I had this yummy mac and cheese dish (it looked prettier before I had taken two bites out of it, but I didn't think of taking a pic of it till after I had devoured those two bites!). Delish!!!

Other places we enjoyed meals at (and would definitely recommend--none of these are very pricey either): Chow (breakfast), Typhoon (Thai), 3 Creeks Brewery in nearby Sisters, Deschutes Brewery (this is one of our faves, we've eaten there every trip!), Hola (Peruvian/Mexican), Baldy's (BBQ), and Alpenglow Cafe (brunch).  

Ellie and Nanny Carol at Three Creeks Brewery in Sisters, OR.

We also got a chance to go visit Crater Lake (a few hours south of Bend). It was beautiful, but the drive around was a little nerve-wracking for us 3 wimpy girls as we were very high up with no guard rails and roads that were literally "on the edge". It was definitely worth going to go see once though!
The beautiful lake--yes, it really is THAT blue!

Ellie and Ranger Darby. She did a postcard coloring project and earned a "Junior Ranger Badge"--she was pretty excited!

Ellie, Pete and me and another gorgeous view of the lake!

High 70s and there was still snow there! Crazy!

We hiked up to see Plaikni Falls...a really pretty waterfall! Worth the walk, but we should have put on some mosquito repellent...we all got our share of bites (especially Carol whose were more like "mosquito welts" instead of bites---I felt really bad for her!)

Tomorrow...Part 2 (just too many photos for one post!).