Sunday, August 24, 2014

Easiest Ever Peanut Butter Cookies

A few years ago, I was on the hunt for a gluten-free dessert recipe. My friend has children who have gluten sensitivities, and when I had youth get-togethers at my house, I would kick myself every time they would remind me that they couldn't partake of any of the goodies I had provided.  While searching for something yummy, yet gluten-free, I came upon this wonderful recipe.

I call these my 1-1-1-1 Peanut Butter Cookies. They are super easy to make and the recipe is easy to memorize.

1-1-1-1 Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together.
Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press lightly with a fork.
Bake between 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude.
Makes about 10 cookies.

See?  Easy. I make these frequently when it's late at night and the guys want a snack, but I don't want to spend a whole lot of time baking. I like that there's no flour in them because no matter how hard I try to keep things clean while baking, I always manage to dump flour on the table, on the floor, or down the front of my shirt. Easy to make, easy to clean up.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chicks in the 'Hood

The Hood

I am very lucky in that I live in a neighborhood in which people adhere to the policy of "Live and Let Live." In fact, I'd be willing to stick my neck out and say that for the most part, our whole town is like that.

We don't call the cops on each other when someone's music is a little too loud. Our thought is, "Hey, the neighbor is spending one of his few days off, out in the yard, playing with his kids and making improvements. Let the AC/DC roll!" 

If someone is out shooting fireworks other than on an "approved" holiday, I don't get my shorts in a bunch. I just figure they must be celebrating someone's birthday and had some leftovers from July 4.

Some stranger cuts through my back yard so they don't have to walk an extra three blocks? Go for it. Just leave my yard as you found it. Or better yet, pick up a rake on your way through and help out.

The guy down the block plants tall wildflowers in his front yard instead of grass. The neighbors don't complain that it's an eyesore, or looks messy. They appreciate the view as they stroll by.

The Chicks

Our next door neighbors, as a family project, built a chicken coop and stocked it with a few egg-layers. The first thing the grandkids do when they come over is say, "Can we go see the chickens?"  Since the coop borders our yard, they get a good view.

Baby Elephant and Chunk love to sing along with the rooster when he gets crowing.

Our neighbors open the coop and let the chickens out for some fresh air several times a week.
Uh-oh. Do they get in my yard?
Do they get in my garden?
Yup. In fact they ate a whole flat of vegetable starts that I left sitting out in the yard, waiting to be planted.
Do I complain about it?

Why not?????

Well, for one, I think it's great that my neighbors let their chickens "free-range" as we call it. It's good for the chickens and it's good for their eggs. 

Two, I live in a rural area. If I don't want chickens, deer, or baby goats in or near my yard, I know what to do--either move to an urban area or invest in the resources to protect my garden from them.

Three, they eat grasshoppers which would cause more damage to my garden than the chickens ever would.

Four, we sometimes get free eggs!

And of course the final reason has to do with a couple of little kids who have totally succumbed to the charms of the chicks in the hood.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Return of the Teen

A week ago today, I said goodbye to Weston as he left on a quest. Was this a quest to destroy a ring and save a kingdom? Or a quest to defeat a gold-hoarding dragon?

Nay. This was a quest to test his fortitude in the absence of a bathroom, a quest to find if he could fall asleep without the whirring sound of a fan but with the screech of forest animals, a quest to prove his mother wrong when she said, "Maybe you should take a long-sleeved shirt in case you get cold." Indeed, it was a quest to prove his manhood.

I am happy to say, he succeeded in his quest. He arrived home yesterday, blistered, sunburned, and exhausted.

The first three days of the fifty mile hike, he trudged uphill in the rain. He drank water (filtered, of course) from cold running streams. He slept on the ground without a pillow. He hiked in boots that started to come apart at the heel. And he brought his iPhone so he could take pictures!  Yay! 

Enjoy the beauty of the high Uintas of Utah.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ice Cream

Day 31, also known as "I can't believe it's August and summer is almost over!"

I got really lucky in the children department. All three of my kids are people that I really like. They're smart, funny, hard-working, and most importantly--kind.

I recently found out something fun. A story I submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel was chosen for publication. When I first found out, I went to Facebook to share the joy. I thought maybe a few of my friends would "like" the post. Instead, I read comment after comment of congratulatory wishes. I was stunned by all the heart-felt notes.

My two daughters were among my well-wishers. Em sweetened the moment, literally, by dropping by with some surprise ice cream--Oreo Mint Chocolate!  I am never one to turn down ice cream no matter how full I am.  (Well, except that one time when I bought some sugar-free, dairy-free, ginger ice cream. That stuff was nasty, and I did something unheard of--I threw it away.)

Doesn't that look yummy?  I offered some to Computer Geek and luckily he said no!
(Yes that is a map of the world hanging on my office wall. We are geeks who are constantly looking up stuff. Plus, I home school and force Weston to find places on the map just for my amusement.)

Ice cream. A perfect way to end Day 31.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Playing Outside

Hot Time, Summer in the City, Day 30

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with the grandchildren on Day 30. They love to play outside so I rested on the porch swing while they had their fun.

 Miss Baby Elephant, hanging out with Grandma. I love this photo because her Scandinavian hair is visible. Don't let anyone tell you that brown hair and brown eyes are dominant. Em has brown hair and brown eyes. I actually told her once that she would  never have blue-eyed children. Of her three children, two are blue-eyed blonds. The third is a brown-eyed blond. Bauer's Viking blood conquers all.

Avatar chose to work instead of play. He's just like that.

Chunk showing off his mad biking skills.  He tells me that he doesn't need "stabilizers."  
Translation: Training wheels.

It's a good day when I get to be around these kids. I don't know what will happen when Kay starts having kids. Maybe I will force her to live within one mile of me too.

Power Outages

Day 29, A Summer Storm

It rained for three days in a row here this week.  The bright side is that The Pond fills up and we get to water our gardens. Rain also has a sweet ability to put out forest fires. The downside is that when it gets too dry, our dirt turns to a pottery-like substance that doesn't allow the water to soak in. Instead it becomes a conduit for mud and newly-formed rivers. We've had a couple of nearby mudslides that hampered travel in and out of our county.

The accompanying lightning took out the power for a few hours on Day 29. I have a confession to make. I sometimes enjoy bad weather. It might be related to childhood when I lived in Tornado Alley and my mother would gather us together and direct us to the basement. We would all huddle together with a flashlight or a candle, listening to the transistor radio, waiting for the "all clear" signal. While I don't enjoy the devastation a storm may bring, I do appreciate the majesty and beauty.

I really needed to take a shower, but the lightning prevented that for a while. (For those who didn't grow up in Twisterland, never take showers when there's lightning about. Not good.) When the lightning was gone, so was the power. It was out long enough for me to realize that my shower was going to have to be by candlelight.

My camera--the only thing that worked during the outage!

Spray Paint!

Summery Things, Day 28

One of my favorite ways to spend time outdoors is with a can of spray paint in my hand. (Sorry, that's about as outdoorsy as I get.)  For obvious reasons, spray painting is not really a cold weather endeavor. So when the sun is beating down and the box elder bugs are crawling all over everything, I know it's time, and hot enough, to grab something ugly and a can of paint.

This was an old Easter basket I had hanging around. Since Weston is now 15, you know how long it's been hanging.  It was shades of dark purple, green, and pink, but I thought it would look better in pistachio. Krylon Satin Pistachio to be exact. This type of basket is great for delivering goodies to someone's house, when you don't necessarily need to have the basket back.

Old peanut butter jar and Krylon Ocean Breeze. Perfect for holding a spray of white daisies. 

This is a table I rescued from a curb junk pile. It was black and is still a work-in-progress. It's being painted white first, as a primer. It still needs a couple of layers. And then I need to decide whether I want it to be Pistachio, Ocean Breeze, or Jade (which is pretty close to Pistachio.) After it's painted, I have visions of visiting The Graphics Fairy for some furniture transfers in French typography. I've never  done that before but if I mess it up, I'll just spray paint over it!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Krylon to promote their products. I happened to have them on hand from Mother's Day last year when the males said, "What do you want for Mother's Day? Please, give us a clue!"  Oh, and The Graphics Fairy does not know I exist, but I think everyone should know she exists. She is real.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Departure

Day 27, The Camping Adventure Begins. I enjoy it vicariously.

Some people enjoy punishing themselves by seeing how little they can survive on for an entire week. Outdoors. In a forest. I am not one of those people.

I am what is called a "glamper," meaning I need to have a mall within a mile in case I run out of Victoria's Secret Sensual Blush body wash while I'm camping. Another prerequisite to my going camping is a tent with an air-conditioner and a guarantee that there are no bears or snakes within a fifty mile radius. My son however, feels that soap would weigh down his pack and is therefore not a necessity.

He and his mountain-man buddies left town on Day 27. They're driving four hours away through northern Utah and southern Wyoming to arrive in Utah's High Uintas mountain range. They will park vehicles and say goodbye to them for a week as they hike through the wilderness. They've been warned that if they are weak, they will be left behind.

I am no longer his protector. I'm not crying. Really.

Part of the crew.

Last minute rearranging and texting. No cell signal where they're going.

Securing the load.

Knowing that I will not see my son for a week, and that he might get eaten by a bear, get attacked by a wolverine, or get a blister, I attempted to secure an intimate last minute hug from him. Instead, he grabbed my forearm, said "Brotha," and yelled "Freedom!" as he turned his back on me.

I turned to Computer Geek, grinned, and said, "Yes, freedom!"

Breakfast in the Park

Summer Enjoyment, Day 26

When the weather is nice, sometimes you just have to eat outdoors. It's definitely a summer activity because I'm not too fond of parking my parka on a snow-capped park bench.

July 26 found us at a local play place having breakfast with our friends. We had pancakes, scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and watermelon. This is the closest I get to camping.

I didn't get too many photos because I was helping serve food. I grabbed my camera to snag a few parting shots shortly before people started leaving .

Cutie-Pie Pixie and her pretty mama

Weston's friends. The big hole in between Dash and River is where Weston was sitting before he saw my camera. My guess, by the looks on the boys' faces, is that Weston ducked under the table.

Bauer, trying to coax Miss Baby Elephant down the slide


Celebrate summer by taking your food outdoors!

Camping Equipment

Summer Fun, Day 25

When you live in the country you must accept the fact that for a few days every summer your living room looks like this. There is no point in vacuuming the carpet, dusting the furniture, or entertaining visitors.  The camping participant (in this case Weston) uses the various rooms in your house as a staging arena, a place to organize equipment for the upcoming camping trip.

Usually Weston's camping adventures are limited to an overnight stay in the nearby forest. He and a few friends will hike up the mountain, pitch their tents, and sit around a campfire texting their friends.  The only food they bring is cheddar cheese chips, some Swedish Fish, and maybe a Gatorade. In the morning, they fish a squashed doughnut out of a backpack, hike back down the mountain, and spend the rest of the day pretending like they don't need a nap.

The above "mess" signifies something greater is at hand. Note the JetBoil stove, the foam sleep mat, the first aid kit, the extreme lightweight sleeping bag, a water filter, the hammock, and the one week's worth of t.p. Not shown is the week's worth of food, such as flavored rice, oatmeal, beef jerky, trail mix, foil pack "canned" chicken, granola, and hard caramel candy.  No junk food now. It's not worth the extra weight. All food must be justified as vital to survival or it's not being packed.

Now, these survival items are on the couch. Soon, they will be spread back out on the floor in an attempt to pack and re-pack for greatest efficiency. It's not unusual to get everything packed only to realize something important was forgotten.  The mini-deodorant. The trial-size toothpaste. Shampoo?  Not happening.

Stay tuned for Day 27...

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