Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fourth of July weekend... Camping & Fireworks!

Can you still call it Fourth of July weekend, if the fourth is on a Monday? Hmm...I don't know. But, I've already written the title and it's saved like that, so we're going with it!

Last year during our big family campout, my cousin was telling us about a campground that had camped at earlier in the year. It was small enough that they watched their daughter ride her bike around the entire campground, had a river for fishing and just sounded all-around wonderful. I knew I wanted to go camping there this Summer, especially since we actually had a vehicle we could fit us and camping gear in now (still lovin' our Yukon!).

After checking our schedules, it turned out the only available time we could go between all of our other activities, was the day after our anniversary (nine years, baby!) and the weekend before the fourth.

So, the morning of we headed out early, and made a couple stops for groceries. We had, of course, gotten the address and an idea of where we were headed before we left. Hubby was using the GPS on his phone, so we were set. We wanted to get there kind of early, since this particular campground didn't take reservations (which made this control-freak a little nervous) but after the grocery stop, a potty stop (which luckily occurred at a KFC so we could also get lunch) and two more stops (for roasting forks...oops, nobody was apparently in charge of packing those...! and firewood) it was taking longer than expected And, it was further than we anticipated too... It seemed like we just kept driving and driving, and the kids' “Are we there yet?” from the backseat certainly didn't help!

But, finally we saw the sign for Salmonberry campground (in Alsea, OR)! We pulled in and were impressed immediately. The campground was beautiful, small and cozy and all the tent sites were settled back against the tree line, giving a nice big grassy area to play, sunbathe, etc.
We picked out a site and before we could even get the tent, aka vacation home (our tent is huge) up, Z was already begging to go fishing.

He and Avalee were quickly distracted by a cute, fuzzy little caterpillar, which gave us the time we needed to get set up. ;o)







After getting settled in we headed to the boat dock so Z could get in some fishing.




As I expected, his impatience got the better of him and not much fishing was had.



The kiddos still had lots of fun swimming in the river, digging in the mud and chasing butterflies.
Avalee decided she wanted to try some fishing too.




After we got back to camp, we discovered why we were seeing so many butterflies! This cocoon was huge and full of (probably hundreds!) of caterpillars! I've never seen anything like it, and we were all just fascinated with it!





Dinner that night consisted of roasted sausages, salad and chips.
We decided, in order to save space (since Grandma was coming with) we would leave the grill at home. I was a little nervous that we would be relying on just the campfire, but packed bread and PB&J, just in case. Haha!
Dessert was, of course, s'mores. Unless, you're Avalee and just want the marshmallows!



And, even camping, you still have to get bedtime stories from Daddy!


After Avalee went to bed, Z was "bored" and decided ton put on a show for us with glowsticks (it was much cooler in the dark, but the flash on the camera lit him up). Silly guy!


In the morning, we managed to heat up water over the campfire for hot chocolate, which is a very important aspect of the camping trip. Unfortunately, I forgot cereal bowls, so we had to wing it and use plastic cups...oops!



Then, it was onto our next adventure...pay showers! When it says on the website to bring lots of quarters, you should probably do just that. We kind of put it off, and once we got there realized it was $.25/minute...yikes! Colin and I decided to take kids in together and each take one. It went, eh, okay, but lets just say there was a lot of furious scrubbing going on!

After a nice afternoon of swimming in the river, some more fishing, riding bikes, etc we realized we were getting pretty low on wood. And, since dinner was going to be hobo stew, we decided to go back into town for wood.






After a very interesting interaction at the all-around general store (grocery/hardware/deli...) with the locals, we were told there was no wood available. What...how do you not have wood??
Yet, we somehow found ourselves following one gal to her house where her dad agreed to sell us some of his wood. Sure, enough when we arrived at the (kind) stranger's house, there was a boy outside chopping wood for us! And, we ended up with an entire back end of wood plus kindling. Wow, such service! Love that small town feel!

So, we ended plenty of wood for our hobo strew dinner that night...haha! And, let me just say that was some gooood hobo stew! I remember when we were kids and we made the traditional style, with a hamburger patty, carrots potatoes and onions. I decided to go with something different, so did mine with a chicken breast, sliced red and green bell peppers, onion, potatoes with olive oil and salt/pepper. After they cooked on the coals, I topped it with a slice of swiss...yummm!

After dinner, the kids each found new camping friends to hang out with. Z's was a little boy about a year younger than him, but who was riding without training wheels. This proved fascinating for Z and gave the other boy a bit of the advantage in adventurous riding. Avalee's new little friend happened to be a boy. Ohh, and not just any boy, but a boy wearing cool goggles and wielding a plastic ax. A very manly boy that of course was trying to woo her into eventually marrying him and moving far, far away.



At least, that's what Avalee's Daddy thought...hehe!


We were sad to depart the next day, but vowed to make return trips to this beautiful campground very soon!

Of course, one has to make time for one final cup of hot chocolate. And, how cool is this dude, right??

Little Miss A got her hands on a doughnut!


Since we had discovered on the long ride in that we were only about 30 miles from the coast, we decided to head back that way and take advantage of the beautiful Sunday afternoon.
We ended up stopping at Nye Beach, which is an area we don't often venture, since it's usually further South than we go, but it was a great area.
The only hitch was where we decided to actually go down to the beach. It was a bit of a descent, or so we thought...until we started down. We quickly realized it was almost straight down! It proved to be a little more difficult than we first thought, and let's just say we had Colin go back solo and drive down to the pier to pick us up!

The beach itself was gorgeous and we had perfect weather (perfect weather in Oregon coast terms means little wind, some sun and no rain...haha). We also enjoyed all the rock formations, some of which were perfect photo spots and all the jellyfish.





We spent some time there gathering shells, digging in the sand, chasing birds and being chased by waves, and then decided it was time to head back home.








It was definitely an amazing, much-needed stay-cation and we all went back home happy and relaxed. :o)



The next day was the Fourth of July, of course, and we realized we had no fireworks. Oops! So, we headed off to find a few fireworks to buy, and after visiting a couple different stands finally had some of our favorites. Then, to the store to grab some eats and back home.

After dinner, we headed out to let the kiddos do some snakes (why do they love these so much I'll never know!) and sparklers. Once it got a little darker, we started some of our goodies.





We don't buy too much, because our neighbors always put on quite the display of (illegal) fabulous fireworks all evening (and sometimes the following day) so we don't want to miss out on those. This year was definitely not an exception, and we enjoyed fireworks all evening!





We actually lost track of the time, until Zavion dragged himself over to me and said, “Mom, can we just do my baseball (we always let him get one 'big' fountain as the finale...this year it was a baseball one) because I'm cold and tired.” I checked the time and it was 10PM! Two hours after their bedtime...oops!



So, we did his fountain and took two tired kiddos inside for bed (of course, they fell asleep immediately) and called it an evening.

It was a great evening following a fantastic weekend, and I could hardly believe the end to our little vacation (since our anniversary was the day before camping, Colin had been off for five whole days!) and back to reality the next day! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Day Countdown: Homemade Pop-Tarts



While I'm not too big on Valentine's Day, my kids love it. To be honest, they love any semblance of a holiday, because around here that usually means crafts, cookies, decorations, etc to go along with said holiday. And, of course, Valentine's Day is no different. So, I've given in, jumped on the bandwagon and, well, here I am...

I thought I'd share some of the Valentine's fun we've been working on, and will post a Valentine's related craft, recipe every day until the big day. :o) So, here's my first one...

I first saw a recipe for homemade Pop Tarts a few months ago. Homemade Pop Tarts?? Umm...yes, please! Like everyone else on the planet, I love Pop Tarts (c'mon, admit it...you know you do too)! In fact, during my days in the college dorms, I lived on Pop Tarts, Ramen noodles and Dr Pepper and when Colin and I were poor college students living on our own, Pop Tarts were a staple in our apartment. There was a short period of time we had them in the house for Colin (who still loves them and gets away with eating them since he cycles 10 miles to and from work each day), but once Z started asking for them, I had to ban them from the house.

Once I saw I could make my own, much healthier versions, I jumped on the chance!

And, I thought what a perfect Valentine's breakfast they would make, cut out into heart shapes.

Homemade Pop-Tarts
Source: Macaroni and Cheesecake, King Arthur Flour
Yield: 9 pop-tarts or about 6 heart-shaped pop-tarts (I used a medium sized cookie cutter)

For the pastry crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
*I cheated and bought the Pillsbury pie dough from he grocery store. It seems like this might yield a smaller batch of pop-tarts than the homemade pastry dough, so just keep that in mind.

Filling Options:
Strawberry jam
Chocolate Chips
Nutella
Cinnamon/brown sugar

For the Strawberry jam filling:
¾ cup strawberry jam
*Here's where you can make it much healthier! Use your favorite sugar-free jam or your own homemade (sugar-free) jam like I did!
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water




For the Cinnamon Filling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Optional Glaze
½ Cup powdered sugar
1Tbl butter
1-2 tsp milk (less if using cream)
*You can add 1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder to glaze the chocolate pop-tarts or 1tsp cinnamon for cinnamon/sugar pop-tarts.


For Assembly:
1 egg, lightly beaten (to brush on pastry)
powdered sugar or flour for rolling out dough

Directions:


Strawberry Filling:
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch & water. In a small saucepan, add strawberry jam & the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil & then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & allow to cool.

Cinnamon Filling:
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Glaze:
Heat in small saucepan and whisk until smooth (or heat for about 1 min in microwave).

For the Crust:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt & sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dough until the mixture resembles coarse meal & the butter is the size of peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg & milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture & mix together with a fork until dough is evenly moistened. Knead briefly until dough comes together.

To Assemble:
Cut the dough in half. (To make the dough ahead, you can wrap each section of dough & refrigerate for up to 2 days, allowing dough to come to room temp. before rolling). Sprinkle powdered sugar on your rolling surface & then roll out one piece of dough to 1/8 inch thick, into roughly a 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 rectangle (my dough rolled out to a little less than this and it yielded the same amount of tarts). Trim the edges to get straight lines all around. Cut the dough into either 9 evenly sized rectangles or into shapes with cookie cutters. Using a straight spatula, transfer dough rectangles to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the beaten egg lightly onto each of the pop-tarts.
Spoon a small amount of strawberry or brown sugar/cinnamon filling onto each (1 tsp to 1 tbsp. depending on your size). If adding chocolate chips, use about 1 tsp added to middle of pastry.
*Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch of space around the edges and do NOT overfill these as they will be messy!



Roll out the remaining piece of dough as you did the first, cutting into the same amount of pieces. Top each prepared piece of dough with another. If you are cutting out shapes, you will have leftover dough. Just keep rolling these out, so you can cut out more shapes (I ended up with a couple smaller hearts, just so that the dough wasn't wasted).
Press the seams of the dough with your fingers to seal. Press a fork around the edges of each rectangle, then prick the tops so that air can escape. Very lightly brush the tops with beaten egg.




Place the pan of tarts in the refrigerator uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool slightly.
Brush or drizzle glaze on and add sprinkles, colored sugar, etc.
These are best served warm, so if you make them ahead of time reheat them in a 200 degree oven for approximately 5 minutes until warm. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.







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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving all!
I just wanted to take a moment to mention some of the things I'm thankful for...
My wonderful hubby, who works hard so I can stay home with our kiddos! He is also the most thoughtful, sensitive caring partner I could ask for and the kids could dream of!
My amazing kids! They give me SO much happiness every single day I'm with them, and I feel incredibly blessed to spend my days with the two most awesome people in the world!
My family, especially my parents who have and will do anything for us (to watching the kids at a moments notice to giving me a ride when I lock myself out of the car to cutting a million paper strips for me when I was sick and had a crafty playdate coming!). They really are the best! My siblings for being hip and cool and just fun to talk to and hang out with. And, of course for being awesome Aunts & uncles for my kids!
My friends especially my best friend who I've known since 7th grade! I know not everyone is fortunate enough to live within 15 minutes of their best friend, and I'm incredibly grateful for that; being able to hang out whenever we want and raise our kids together is so special to me!
Being in good health and that my family is in good health.
Having a gorgeous house in the best neighborhood ever with some pretty cool neighbors!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

~Peggy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mother's Day



I had another great Mother's Day this year! It started with my awesome hubby letting me sleep in while he wrangled and fed the kids breakfast. Afterward, they all presented me with cards and gifts (lots of Bath & Body Works from Colin and some awesome earrings that Z picked out all by himself!).
Then it was off to Silver Creek Falls to meet up with our families for a picnic. It was a gorgeous day, and absolutely perfect for a picnic and hike to see the falls! We had a great time taking in the scenery and the kids had a blast getting 'misted' on by the waterfall and exploring the caves (Z especially, who decided he could 'talk' to the bats he was sure lived in the caves...”Eee, ee, eeeeee!!).
It was an awesome day spent with my (some of) favorite people!!

The kiddos playing tag with Grandma after our picnic





The South Falls





Z exploring the caves & talking to the bats...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Farewell to 2009...

So, 2009 is officially in the past and we have a whole new year ahead of us. Last year was a great year for us, and I thought I would share a quick recap for you...
Of course, we started the year with a brand new (three week) old baby. Everything was new again, as we now had two kiddos. We learned a lot, adjusted a lot and slept a little. ;0)
We started out the year welcoming a new member of our 'family.' Our best friends (Brendan & Liz) had their first baby, beautiful Madisen, which immediately meant a new best friend for Avalee. ;0)
We had a great visit with my sister-in-law, Ceara who met her new niece for the first time. Zavion loved seeing his Aunt Ceara again, and put on quite the show while she was here. LOL! And, we got to catch up a little too, even if the visit was much too short.

We went bowling; Avalee slept through all of it and Z had a blast.

We had another visit from a friend of mine from high school. She lives in Germany now, so the visit was pretty special. Her daughter is about a year younger than Zavion, so they got to play together and we got to catch up (and see Sarah's cute little baby bump!).


We got more snow (in February?!) and Z had a blast sledding, building a snowman, and...
Throwing snowballs!


We experienced what it would be like to have twins...but only for a week...when I watched Madi while Liz went back to work. It was crazy, but lots of fun too!


We got another visit, this time from my brother, John. He decided to surprise my parents, so we (Colin & I) set it all up with him; we made up a story to pick him up from the airport, than he showed up at my parents house the next day. We totally pulled it off and it was a great surprise! It was also John's first time meeting Avalee and I loved seeing her little face the first time she saw him...priceless! And, when Z came downstairs to find Uncle hiding on the couch (one of Z's favorite games) he was ecstatic!
Z took swim lessons again, and had a great time.


We had lots of sunny day lunches with Daddy (and even some rainy day ones too...yay for the mall, and Charlies!).




We took a spontaneous trip to the beach after hearing the temperature at the coast would be in the 70s (in April!). It was Avalee's first trip to the coast and she loved it! It was also our first real trip with the four of us, and it was an amazing day that will forever be with me.
Avalee rolled over, than sat up. She got her first taste of solid food, and LOVED it.

We celebrated our first Mother's Day and Father's Day as parents of two kids.



We had our family reunion and took the kids to The Enchanted Forest for the first time.
We took both kids to the pool and watched them both swim like fishies!



We went camping during THE heat wave. It's definitely not something I would want to repeat, but despite three digit temperatures, we still managed to have a great time.
We went to Seaside for a few days and had a great time hanging out at the pool, swimming in the pool and exploring the town.

Avalee started crawling!


We added a new family member; Cup, the fish. Z was ecstatic to get his own fish and spent the first few days singning, reading, and talking to him.


We found out another little family member in on the way; my sister-in-law and her hubby are expecting their first baby in April! Of course, Colin and I are very excited, but but Zavion is so cute with how excited his is for his “new baby cousin.” :0)

We started a new football season and introduced our newest Duck to the game.


We remodeled the dining room. We always hated the carpet in there, so tore it out, put laminate in than added some new paint, blinds, cabinet and dining room table! (We didn't get very good before & after shots, so this is the best we have...)






We went to VEGAS sans kiddos! We missed the kids terribly, but still managed to have a fabulous time. ;0)

We watched our little boy turn four and enjoyed a fun Superman birthday party with him.
We went to the pumpkin patch, carved some pumpkins and dressed up the kids for Halloween (A's first!).




We celebrated Thanksgiving with family, food and fun.
We drove to Hood River with two kids to ride The Polar Express. It was a loong drive to and from, but definitely worth it to see the look on Z's face when the 'conductor' yelled, “Aaaal aboard!” or when the train started moving or when Santa got on!




We took our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm, this time with a 'plus one' and picked out the perfect tree.


We celebrated Avalee's first birthday with lots of family & friends, lots of fun and lots of presents!

We celebrated Christmas at home with family, and had a great day.

And, we ended the year with a trip to California for the Rose Bowl!


And...along the way...
had lots of playdates, made baby food,

took trips to the park, did some crafts, cooked some yummy food, took trips to the pool, canned a lot of pickles...and...
We shared a lot, laughed a lot, and loved a LOT!!
















Here's to 2010!
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