Sunday, September 28, 2014

Split Rock Lighthouse

Saturday we left early with a vague notion we would drive a couple hours to Duluth and hike around that beautiful town. On the way we googled "lighthouses" and that led us to our actual, dreamy, perfect destination: Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, MN, on Lake Superior. It ended up being a 3.5 hour drive up, but luckily we love road tripping together. The babies get all excited and squeal when we pass cows or lakes or go through tunnels - especially the tunnels. I filmed it.
We got there about noon. I have never in my life seen a lighthouse in person but have read of them and daydreamed enough to have decided they are of the most romantic places on earth. I mean, come on: the setting by the sea, the design of the building, the idea of tough of sailors relying on them for the safety of their boats and crews; it all draws you right in. And then the obvious metaphorical aspect. As regards to that, one of my favorite hymns has been playing in my mind all weekend. Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy. I'm just going to let the lyrics start us through the pictures.

Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,

But to us he gives the keeping

Of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.

Eager eyes are watching, longing,

For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,

Trying now to make the harbor,

In the darkness may be lost.

I love that hymn. It is beautiful to think that we can help "save" each other with the light that we cast. We need each other! I've been offered hope and kindness from family, friends, even complete strangers in my life, and it really makes you want to be that for some one else.

So I played with some filters and font types and made this reminder to tape on my mirror. a less thoughtful note. Here am I "saving" someone right now! My own dear damsel in distress! :)
 We spent a good three hours touring the light house, hiking around, and playing in the chilly water. Riley especially wanted to splash around and asked for her bathing suit even! It was 60 degrees! The only people swimming in the water had wet suits and scuba tanks on.
 I happily used the excuse of cooler weather to buy a souvenir sweatshirt so it worked out.
 It was a beautiful day. Perfect, one for the books. Laughter was had, trip food was eaten. Babies were a little annoyed of the long drive but then we just turned on Frozen (we had the radio playing at the same time and there was some serious overlap; it will be a long time before I can watch Elsa's solo and not hear, "I'm a black widow ba-by," along with it). Towards the end of our drive when things got really desperate, a youtube video of puppies falling down the stairs did the final trick!
And at the end of a long day, I am grateful for 5 buck hot and ready pizzas and the church's General Women's Meeting - so, so uplifting and totally appropriate for my "light" themed day.

*Experience the cheering effects of fwuffy wittle puppies trying stairs here.
*A beautiful A Capella arrangement of that favorite hymn here.

And now I'm going to do myself and the people I love a favor and go the heck to sleep for 8 hours! Some people are so composed even sleep-deprived. I just ain't one of em.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brisbee and THE Bread

I haven't done a recipe post in a while, but have I got some news for you: whole wheat bread! I got this killer recipe from my bishop's wife in CO, Marian Richards, who got it from her visiting teacher who got it from her bishop's wife. You know a recipe with a lineage, has got to be good. So good! Riley and Joe eat it up. It calls for ascorbic acid and gluten flour, which I have never used before, but I braved Whole Foods for them because it's worth it.

Also, I made naan bread to go with our curry tonight, and I have to say: I make an exceptional naan. So soft and chewy and delicious, perfect to scoop up your rice and chicken with, or snack on later...mmm. (that was me, literally snacking right now. But I had to wipe the butter off my fingers before I could type that.) So, there's your bonus recipe right there.

But first: a video for your viewing pleasure. They don't care how bad they are at it, they just were having a swell time!

You know, I never regret it when I take the time to just relax and play with them, unstructured, not distracted with chores or phone. We hung out in their little playroom for about three hours yesterday, reading books, and having a "sleepover" with their sleeping backs from Uncle Wora, playing "socca ball" and "bisbee." It was restorative.

3 Crumbs Wheat Bread

2 1/3 cup very warm water
2 Tbs instant dry yeast
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp. ascorbic acid (Might be labeled as "Vitamin C" in Whole Foods, but look at the ingredients on the bottle - if it just says "ascorbic acid", that means you're good)
1/2 Tbs salt
1/8 cup gluten flour (Rob's Red Mill)
6 cups wheat flour, or 4 cups wheat and two white
*I do it with the wheat/white combination because that is how Marian made the loaf she gave us and I didn't want to mess with perfection. But you want whole wheat, you do it!
*Ascorbic acid enhances the yeast and cuts the rising time. You can probably do without it if you have the time.

Place water in mixing bowl. Add yeast, oil, honey, ascorbic acid, and gluten flour. When the yeasts starts to get puffy, mix in salt, and then about 4 cups of flour. Mix well, then gradually add in the other 2 cups of flour. You might need to add more - elevation makes a difference so making this in MN versus Denver, I had to add an extra cup.

Knead until the dough is smooth and satiny and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Coat a large bowl with oil, put dough in the bowl, turning to coat the whole ball. Let rise till double (about 1/2 an hour), punch down and divide into 2 loaves (or whatever size/number loaves you want) and place in lightly greased loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, let loaves rise about 15 minutes and then put it in.

Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes (you can use a meat thermometer and take it out when it registers and internal temp of 190-195 and the tops are medium-light brown.) Remove from oven and loaf pans and place on cooling rack, brush melted butter over the top and let cool (if you can! Your house will smell like fresh bread at this point!)
If it's quiet too long, they might be in the bandaids. "I'm making Joe feel better, Mom!"

Now for the naan. Adapted from here.

Naan: great side for Indian food, or dare I say, any food.

3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 1/2 cup flour, plus a sprinkle for work space

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl, let stand till foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in garlic salt, mix in flour, knead on floured surface about 20 times, fully incorporating flour (it may still be a little sticky, but should mostly hold together). Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover with wax paper or damp towel, let rise in a warm place (like a slightly heated oven. Make sure it's off though! Yeah, I've made that mistake!)

Let rise 30 minutes. It won't rise too much, but that's okay. Take it out and divide dough into 4, roll out pieces on floured surface nice and thin, abut 1/8 of an inch. Place on medium-high heat - griddle works best, but can use a pan as well. Cook about 2 minutes on each side, till lightly browned; remove from heat and brush with garlic butter. Each naan can feed 2 normal people, as they are very dense. I love them, so I have had one and a half. But everyone else was good with half of one. Luckily.

Bonus bonuses: great curry recipe's here and here. Ooh - and a tikka masala to die for.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gentle awakenings

If you think your Monday was rough, just know that Dave got woken up by a bra-cape wearing Superman bouncing on his spine.
*Filmed by an innocent, non-interferring bystander.
*The cape/strangle-hazard was removed directly after.

Superman was something they picked up in preschool; one day they just came home and every blanket, jacket and dishtowel (or handy undergarment...) became a cape and every couch and chair a launch site. We like preschool. They have a great time with their gang of mini-scholars, and I have a great time all by myself! Today I knocked out three loads of laundry and cleaned the house and it stayed clean for hours! It's the little things, people.

I also packed a picnic so we could go out right after they were done to enjoy this amazing first official day of fall. The trees are starting to change and the temperature has been right around 70 with a delicious breeze. It is a great time to be in MN! We went to Como Lake for a walk, to be followed by the zoo and playground. Unfortunately, potty training is hard and accidents happen, sometimes catching you unprepared. Plus Joe kind of fell in lake (he does that.) So we had to go home after our walk, but the hour we got was perfect.

We did go to the zoo last week however. Free carousel ride day! We also had to go check out the new baby zebras, polar bears and giraffe.
In other news, I joined a gym last week. I am a big fan of gyms: I am one of those who needs a designated place and time for exercise, and needs the exercise for her emotional well-being and to simply keep up with these bonkers kids. They have such boundless energy! Maybe I should start sleeping 12 hours a night too.

What I really need to blog about is Jon's wedding though. Last weekend, no, two weekend's ago! He and Mira got married in the Salt Lake temple and I got to go. Alas, my super slow internet is not equipped to handle that mountain of photos to do it justice, so it'll keep till I make it to the library one day..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Toddler Duet

Riley should write for Disney - her lyrics are ever so much more dramatic.

These lil' darling's about killed me today. I almost lost it at least 7 times, but instead I stood still and stared, silently erupting in my core. Yes, "erupt" is the word I've landed on after a good five minutes of thought. Do you do that? Something puts you over the edge (biting, whining, mess-making, furniture de-facing, etc.) and you stand still and silent till the flames clear from you vision, so you don't do or say something you'll regret? I might have issues. And then when they are asleep, I start watching cute videos and wanting to snuggle. Definite issues. But I remember how darn blessed I am and repent and resolve to be better tomorrow. More like my mom, actually. She is the most patient, loving, compassionate mother a spazzy girl like me could ask for. She never saw flames when we were being annoying, or at least was very good at hiding it. Thanks for giving me the best role model Mom, as I try to navigate this whole "motherhood" thing - you made it look easier than it is!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MN State Fair

The other night Dave reminded me I hadn't blogged the MN State Fair. Well alrighty then!

We went to the fair. It is kind of a big deal and has been on our list since we got here. It was a touch rainy but I figured that would lessen the crowds at least. Wrongo! There were sooo many people! Masses and masses of corn-dog eating, beer-drinking, ride...riding farm peoples. Or, as in our case, farm people wanna-be's. It only rained a little on the outset and then the rest of the time we toured barns and art shows and performances and ate our way through the fair in peace.
We loved the kiddy farm. They rode tractors, planted seeds, picked apples etc. and so forth.

 My favorite part was the parade. There were some intricate floats and talented acts, but mostly I watched Joe. Shaking what his mother gave him haha.
 His moves are mostly from me at the kitchen sink, I do believe. We should probably get them both in dance, so they can expand their repertoire.

By the way, this comes to you via my phone internet - Dave showed me how to "tether" and so we are back in business! Sorta - it makes for some sloooooow uploading to blogger, but we should have high-speed internet in another month or so. In the meantime, let me take another five minutes and upload a few more pics from that fair week. I got nowhere to go.

 We found the best Mexican place in MN: El Carambas. That is, Chris found it; thanks, Chris!The decor is half the appeal, but the food is delicious as well.
 We stayed for a week with some friends from school and Riley and Joe were in heaven - new friends, new toys, new parks. Those are some awesome friends that let you crash in their basement while you wait for your apartment to become available.

 Now Dave's been in school for two weeks and the party that was our summer is over. It was a good one! But it is also good to be back in a routine and organizing/decorating our humble abode. I scored a really awesome side table/shelf thingy and a green chair from the underground Target today, wot wot! It is located under the Salvation Army in Minneapolis, and stocked with last season or "dent and ding" products from the Targets all over. How awesome is that. We also now have a full set of mis-matched dining chairs, so come on over for dinner! Our place is super cozy! I love it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Virginia Days

We don't have internet at the house this month - maybe next month? So this comes to you from the church parking lot and their free wi-fi while I wait for a meeting to start. After a visit in VA and a week at our friends here in MN, we are finally in our own little home again. It is a 3 bedroom, so bigger than we are used to, but very very basic, as you'd expect student housing to be - no ac, or washer and dryer or dishwasher. But we love it! After spending 1-10 weeks in each of 7 different states over the summer, we are thrilled to have our own space to mess up! (That last was for Riley and Joe, the human hurricanes.) I love unpacking and deciding the prettiest way to arrange our new place. We also have made friends in the ward and joined a home-school co-op rotation for twice a week preschool. Riley and Joe attend so, 3 weeks out of the month I drop them off 2 days a week at a friends house to learn stuff for 2 hours. And then I take a turn 1 week a month. Pretty sweet, I think - tomorrow will be the official first day of dropping them off so we'll see.

But I'm about out of time and wanted to post up these pictures from our time in VA. We had such a blast hanging out with the family and soaking up the green, green climate that is VA. We went on lots of adventures and left the babies with Grandma and, er, Grandma the Man, as Riley says, and went on a date and Riley learned new bedtime stories from Grandma the Man that she continues to share to this day. We heard a very dramatic rendition of "Danny the Doodlebug" last night.

Lots of walks in the valley.

Princess Riley always got her own bench to lounge on in the evenings.

 Daisy chains. Tiaras. It was a slow day, and isn't that great?

 Slip in slidin'
 They cracked me up and kept at this for like three hours. I risked a few pictures from the front, diving out of the way just in time.
Bowling? No, just chucking kids.

I can't even! Gets me every time.

 Playing with Mister, the resident "baby."
We took a trip to Pipestem State Park. Dad fried up enough chicken to feed an army and we made a day of it! There was a car show.

 Tram ride

 River wading.
"Riley, sit next to Grandpa so I can get a picture!" Doh!
 Then back on the road! We miss you, family and VA!
And really miss this too!
Last stretch back to MN:
 Joe is ultra-sensitive to light, but we kind of enjoy it :) I was the same way as a kid, so I hope he will grow out of it eventually.
Time's up! Later gator!