Reflection of Summer

My summer vacation is officially over.  In my eyes, Saturdays and Sundays don’t count as vacation because I get those days off anyway.  Although it is very sad to put another summer into the history books, the school nerd in me is always excited to get back to school!  So I thought I would look back at just what I accomplished this summer.

Two of my favorite girls and I headed to Texas to start my summer vacation in style.  We toured San Antonio,

shopped til we dropped in Houston, almost died during our pilgrimage to Sprinkles Cupcakes,

hung out with Jordyn Sparks, Backstreet Boys and the marvelous New Kids on the Block, and then headed back home.

I suffered through two flights with my children to spend a few days with my wonderful grandparents in Ohio.

     

It was well worth it!  I am so lucky to have some of the best grandparents in the world!!

     

While we were in Ohio we got to hang out with my favorite partner-in-crime/nanny, Janet.  We also spent some time with our other family members.  I’m really glad I wrestled Parker while giving Paige the stink-eye to behave on those flights!

  • We got home from Ohio just in time to suffer through a miserably hot Rich Hill 4th of July

  • The kids and I have went to the pool, organized their bedrooms, froze a bunch of corn, canned pickles, tried out various zucchini recipes while poor Blake had to work.

Then on a productive Friday morning, this happened…

  I was out of commission for almost a week but I did get caught up on several episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  When I started feeling guilty about my trashy TV watching, I watched The Kennedy’s series to feel a little more intellectual.  By the way, that is a great series and is available on Netflix!  The Kennedy’s not the Teenager show…

Update on the finger:  It is more purple than in this picture now and bends backward in a weird way that it didn’t used to.  Oh and joy of all joys, I got my first hospital bill yesterday which made me super happy since I feel like they did nothing for me…I will not start the ranting…

We took one more quick adventure to KC and spent a couple nights at Great Wolf Lodge.  We had a great time and Paige was very adventurous!

This week I had some much needed pampering and girl time.  I got all of Paige’s back-to-school shopping done.  This is my first time looking at back-to-school from a parent’s perspective.  My how things are different!  Kindergarten is right around the corner and Paige is ready!  She has her monkey backpack, My Little Kitty lunchbox, a couple new outfits and she can hardly wait to go learn how to read!  Kindergarten watch out!  Here she comes!

Parker is crazier than ever.  I learned the hard way that I have to be careful what is on the TV when he is around.  I was watching a reality adventure show and before I knew it Parker was diving off of the arm of the couch onto the cushion in bellyflop fashion.  He loves adventure, running fast, and falling hard!  When you ask him how old he is he will have one of two answers, “Two” (His birthday isn’t until Sept.) or “Half” because Paige must have informed him he is 1 1/2.  He is talking like crazy and so stinking cute that you can overlook his wild side most of the time.  But if it’s quiet, you better go find out what he is up to!!

Last night another momentous thing happened in Paige’s life.  She jumped off the diving board for the first time.  I know that you are thinking that is no big deal.  Especially since Parker also jumped off the board and he is not even 2 yet but Paige has always been a huge scaredy cat.  I’m super excited that she is out growing that!

I would say that we have had a great summer even if it has been 150 degrees most of the time!

    

Cinnamon Pickles

Another great garden goodie is Cinnamon Pickles.  This is another recipe that I loved as a child.  A couple years ago I canned them and Paige fell in love with them.  Thus I grew cucumbers just to make this recipe because I’m not much of a cucumber fan.

 

Cinnamon Pickles  (AKA Red Hots Pickles)  -from grouprecipes.com

2 gallons prepared cucumbers, peeled, ends removed, cored and cut into rings or sticks

8 1/2 quarts water

2 c. pickling lime

1 T. alum

2 c. vinegar

2 c. water

1 1/2 oz. red food coloring

10 c. sugar

6 cinnamon sticks

8-10 oz. red cinnamon candies

Prepare the cucumbers:  peel, remove ends, core, and cut into rings or sticks.

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Combine water and lime.

Soak prepared cucumbers in lime-water for 24 hours.

Drain and wash 3 times and let sit for 3 hours.

Combine alum, vinegar, 2 c water, food coloring, sugar, cinnamon and red hots to make a syrup.

Add drained cucumbers and simmer, covered for 2 hours.

Let stand overnight.

Drain off syrup, reheat and pour over pickles daily for 3 days.

Pack in hot jars and seal.

 

Enjoy!!

Thoughts from a random shopper

I took a few hours to myself today. I was headed to my hairdresser in Joplin so I snuck in some much needed retail therapy as well.

Here are some things I noticed…
JCPenney has rearranged and I don’t like it.
I know I am not hip or young enough to wear clothes at Charlotte Russe but I can buy cheap cute jewelry. There is no need for the teeny bopper cashier to call me m’am.
Crazy 8 is opened! Apparently this is not new but I love this store and didn’t realize there was one in Joplin.
The town of Joplin is healing slowly. Yes half the town is still gone but I didn’t see as many windowless cars or walking injured on this trip. There are signs promising rebuilding! Keep going Joplin. I’m proud of you.
School is drawing near because I ran in to two co-workers who were also shopping for back to school.
My mom was a smart girl to have both of her children at back to school time. I’m realizing how expensive this process is from the viewpoint of a parent. I got a lot of birthday presents that doubled as back to school items.
I love my children to death but sometimes I need to get away and remember I’m more than a mom. A facial and haircut is a good way to help me remember!

Pineapple Zucchini Cake

3 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
3 eggs
11/2 c sugar
1 c coconut oil (or butter). I used butter
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
2 c grated zucchini (squeeze dry)
1 t vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and coconut oil. Add pineapple, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients. Mix well.

Spread in a greased 11 x 15 sheet cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350

Cool completely. Top with cream cheese icing. Refrigerate before serving.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 t vanilla
1 3/4 c powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Beat on low with an electric mixer, then beat on high for 1 minute add more powdered sugar if needed for consistency.

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What a day!

I have accomplished a lot today!

Yesterday I got a phone call that one of my favorite farmers had some corn for me!  He told me he would send several feed bags full.  I, being somewhat of a city girl, had no idea the size of a feed bag so I said Bring it on!

200+ ears of corn later, I have shucked, cleaned and froze almost all of it with my trusty sidekick Blake.  Oh the fun I drag him in to!  I am so grateful to my favorite farmers for this corn!  Thanks Tim!  One of the few things Parker will eat right now is corn so we are set for awhile!

Oh but that’s not all I did!  I have been growing cucumbers in my garden and I don’t even like cucumbers.  I do, however like Cinnamon Pickles and Paige has come to love them as well.  Since we finished the last of our pickles I had canned a couple of years ago this spring, it is time for more pickles.  There will be a blog in the future dedicated to pickles.

Still not done!  Tomorrow night we are having some more of our new favorite friends over for dinner.  I found a great recipe for Pineapple Zucchini Cake and we all remember how much I love Chocolate Zucchini Cake so I decided to try this.  All was going fine until we opened the canned pineapples I made a special trip to Walmart for today and guess what?  There were metal shavings all through the pineapples.  Not only is this crazy but it ruined my entire batter.  Of my trusty sous chef, Paige, and I went back to Walmart.  Turns out it was the second can of crushed pineapples that had been returned tonight.  If you have any Walmart brand crushed pineapples, be very careful!  Anyway, I don’t want to give away how the dessert turned out because I don’t want to ruin it for my dinner guests!

Let’s recap:  200+ ears of corn, 10 lbs. cucumbers, zucchini cake…That my friends is a full day!

My brave girl

Paige has been amazing me lately. She is turning into a beautiful young lady before my eyes.

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My little girl used to be such a scaredy-cat. Boy was I surprised when we entered the water park and paige took my hand and told me she was going on the big slides.

She is the girliest girl I know. Most days she chooses to wear dresses and high heels if I let her.

This weekend she has used the words “actually” and “necessary”. She has been thoughtful and a good example to her hard-to-control little brother most of the time.

I’m going to hang on to these moments because I work with middle schoolers so I know what is coming!

Watch out kindergarten, here comes Paige!

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