Monday, November 22, 2010

Brownie Pecan Pie

I'm not a football expert, or anything,  but I think the Vikings would have had a better chance of winning if their quarterback had been on the field...
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I think that pecan is both my dad's and my father in law's favorite kind of pie.  I like it, too, but it always seems like there's something...missing.  That's why I was excited to try this Brownie Pecan Pie recipe--everything's better with chocolate, right?  A few days ago, I asked my husband if he would eat this pie if I made it.  He told me no.  I was a little hurt, but thought, good, more for me!  Yesterday, while Hubby was at the game, taking pictures of quarterbacks cavorting with the fans instead of stomping their feet on the field, I put it together.  Then, while Hubby was at the Cub Scout meeting, discussing who knows what, I tried a piece.  So good--you've got to try it, too!

Black Forest Brownie Pecan Pie
1 c. light or dark corn syrup
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces (I used ~2/3 c. semi-sweet choc. chips)
3 T butter or margarine
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1 c coarsely chopped pecans (I used ~1 c. chopped, + ~1/2 c. halves)
1 Keebler Ready Crust Graham 2 Extra Servings Pie Crust (or make your own graham cracker crust)

1. Combine corn syrup, sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring mixture to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
2. Add chocolate and butter to syrup mixture, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Let cool for 5 min.
3. Pour chocolate mixture slowly over eggs, stirring constantly.  Add vanilla and pecans; mix well.  Place pie crust on a baking sheet or pizza pan (for stability).  Pour mixture into crust.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, until center of pie is slightly puffed; cool at least 1 hour.  To serve, top each slice of pie with about 1/4 c. cherry pie filling and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired (we skipped the cherries, and added a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

So when hubby got home, he did end up trying a piece.  After a few bites, he found me and said, "is this the pie I said I wouldn't eat if you made it?"  I replied in the affirmative.  Oh, he said, this is good!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spending decisions

We went to Logo's 2nd & 3rd grade concert, "The Principal and the Pea," on Tuesday.  It was so much fun!  The kids did a great job, and so did Miss P, their music teacher.
Here's Logo.  He did a fantastic job speaking slowly and clearly as he said his line, "our principal knew this school from ceiling to basement."  It was fun watching him during the songs, too.

There is something so wonderful about the first accumulating snowfall of the season--doncha just love it?
And...knowing my audience, I would guess at least half of you are now screaming "no" at your computers.  By the way, I can't hear you.

And, I couldn't resist this one.  Here's a headline from last Sunday's Pioneer Press: "Mind-body link revealed in spending decisions."  It was an interesting enough headline for me to start skimming the article (you will notice that it is a full 6 days after this particular article was published, so maybe not so very interesting).  Here's the opening line: "Economists once assumed consumers make rational money decisions based on what's best for them." (emphasis added)

Are they serious?  Economists really thought that?  In which theoretical world were they living, and which mind-altering drugs were they ingesting?  I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I know who, on a regular basis, make rational money decisions, and I'm pretty sure that I don't know anyone who always makes rational money decisions.  And what the heck is a "rational money decision," anyway?

"It turns out spending decisions often can be less about number-crunching math and more about touchy-feely emotions and the mind's link with the body."  Well, thank you consumer researchers, and thank you Pioneer Press, for that insightful illumination of our nation's spending habits.  You heard it here, folks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I think I may have mentioned that Pal & Bubby like to wave at the Waste Management driver every Monday morning.  Generally he comes by either as we're waiting for the bus or right after the bus has gone by, but yesterday he was late, so Pal suggested that we take a walk to find him.  I love to walk, so I agreed, even though I wasn't wearing very good shoes, and off we went.  Along the way, I noticed some interesting seed pods, including some milkweed pods, that I just couldn't resist collecting for tomorrow's project.  The kids noticed some coyote or wolf poop on the road, so we spent some time examining it, then compared it to the horse poop in our neighbor's field.  It was a beautiful day for a walk, even so early in the morning, and eventually the Waste Management truck came by.  This was kind of an aberration in our day, as we've fallen out of the habit of taking a daily morning walk, but a welcome one--I miss it.

It seems Bubby misses our walks, too.  This morning, after the big yellow bus had swallowed up his big brothers, Bubby insisted that we needed to take another walk to get more milkweed.  Now, as I mentioned before, I love to walk, and today is another beautiful day, but I hadn't expected Bubby to want to take a walk this morning, and I hadn't showered yet.  This normally would be of no consequence, however, there was somewhere we needed to be at 9 a.m.  I agreed, telling Bubby that we needed to make it a short walk, so we could get home. 

Now, normally, I'm the one who is egging us on to walk farther.  We will agree, for instance, to walk just to the next mailbox and then turn around, but when we get to the next mailbox, I will suggest that we walk to the yellow sign, and so on.  Today, it was Bubby who kept insisting that we walk farther.  To make this long story short, we didn't arrive back at home until 8:55, and, since there are no showers out on the side of the road, I did not get a chance to shower before we had to head out to our appointment.  I did take the time to change out of my PJ pants, though :-)  I did find some more lovely seed pods, the kind that I had seen on a blog and admired, and wondered what kind of plant they came from, and hoped that I would be able to find around here.  And yes, most assuredly, these lovely seed pods were there yesterday when we passed by, but I didn't see them until today.

Isn't that always the way?  Here was a good thing, a thing that I love to do, this walk, a gift from God on this lovely day, and yet, it wasn't on my terms.  I wasn't expecting this good gift today, and I wasn't ready for it.  So many times in my life, God has been ready to give me some good gift, and because of my need to control, because I'm not ready to receive the gift, because it's at an inconvenient time, I have politely declined.  What?!  Seriously, if God wants to give me a good gift, who am I to refuse?  And yet, time and again, I have.  But today, because I was open to hearing God's voice in the voice of my 3 year old boy, because I yielded my desires and my agenda, I have received this beautiful gift.  Friends, what good gift does God seek to give you this day?  And will you receive it?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Our feathered friends

So, did you guess what we were going to do with the gourds?
We made turkeys!  Isn't that fun?

Pal's turkey has 3 eyes.  I'm not sure why.  He also has about 7 legs.  I'm guessing she likes drumsticks?

This guy's my favorite--I think because he was made from my favorite of the gourds.

Our feathered friends
Just in case you were wondering, hot glue does not stick very well to gourds--I recommend tacky glue.  I thought you might find that tidbit useful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crafty October

Before I share my crafty pictures, let me just say that I'm really liking our new staggered bedtimes.  Last year at this time, all three of our boys were supposed to be getting into bed at the same time, which was actually fine when we had two parents around--two bedrooms, two parents--but was not so much doable when I was parenting solo.  Now, we put the youngest to bed, then put the next youngest to bed 15 minutes later (a little strange, as they're sharing a room, but it works), and then the third youngest goes to bed 15 minutes after that.  It's so nice to be able to get everyone read to, and everyone into bed "on time," while also being able to keep the distracted ones on track, even when my partner in parenting isn't around.  In fact, sometimes, even when we do have two parents around, one parent (Sawblock) does all of the bed-putting-in, giving the other parent (me) a much appreciated break.  Ahhh.  It is so refreshing to find a routine that works.
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And speaking of routines that work, I am also loving my Five Dinners in One Hour free trial week.  I don't want it to end.  Michelle, the author of 5 Dinners in One Hour, has developed menus that allow her to prepare 5 dinners in 1 hour.  She sent me a free trial menu that includes recipes for things like turkey bacon swiss croissants, slow cooked Asian pork chops, and black bean and corn quesadillas, a grocery shopping list, and instructions for how to put together 5 meals in just one hour.  And it's not just the main course--each meal is nutritionally balanced, with protein, starches, veggies, and fruits--yum!  I put together 4 of the meals yesterday in less than an hour, including the time spent getting all of my supplies out AND cleaning up.  Each day, there's minimal additional work to be done to get the meal on the table, but I've got all of my meals just waiting for me in the fridge.  Talk about's nice to have all of these meals waiting for me at the end of a long day, but what's even better, from my distracted, full-brain perspective, is someone else telling me what we're going to have, and someone else making my grocery list.
If you want to try it, you can get the free trial week menu here.
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And now, the moment you've all be waiting for...
OK, maybe not.

A wonderful thing has happened in my life.  The integration of Pal into our daily lives has spurred me on to more creativity.  You see, I love making stuff.  Making stuff, I think, is what I like the very best in the whole world.  But making stuff, when you have small children, is...difficult.  If you try to make stuff without them, well, you have to figure out somewhere else for them to be.  I have such small chunks of time in my life that are child-free, that, by the time I would be able to get my supplies out and get started, it would be time to put it all away again because the children would be back. 

Making stuff with children, is even more of an issue, because the grown-up spends so much time setting up the craft, cleaning up from doing the craft, and policing the children during the craft to make sure that paint doesn't end up on the ceiling, or popsicle sticks don't end up glued permanently to the table, or pompoms don't get lodges in nostrils, that it just isn't fun, and it's soooo not worth it.  For instance, the other day, I spent 20 minutes setting up an art project, then about 20 minutes cleaning up the art project when it was over.  The next day, I spent another 30 minutes putting the finishing touches on the art project.  All of that, for about 20 minutes of kids being creative.

But Pal...Pal makes it worthwhile.  Now I'm setting up and cleaning up for the same amount of time, but it's for two children, so I can divide my effort by two.  The other day, Bubby's friend Car came over, too, so I was able to divide my effort by three.  For instance, in my above-mentioned art project, sure, I spent over an hour on it, for only 20 minutes of kid activity, but it was 3 kids, so it was really an  hour of kid activity.  Much more worth-while (or so I tell myself).

Have I expounded on that enough?  Explained it into the ground?  Basically, having Pal around has given me a mental excuse to get creative with my kid.  Yay, Pal!

I'm not going to acknowledge each project, so let me just say that my inspiration this month came from:
Patrice, Erin, Tiffany, and Jessica at Lemon Tree Creations
and Maya at Maya*Made

Owl playset--yes, Hubby, I *am* saving the toilet paper tubes for something...

Bubby & Pal wore these pumpkin bracelets to a Halloween concert

Making fruit of the spirit apples
I love how the sun shines through these in the morning

Fingerpainting (isn't she cute?!)--I'm not sure Pal had ever fingerpainted before--
she wasn't quite sure what to do, at first.  As you can see, she figured it out :-)
Thanks to Aunt Chip and Uncle Bubub for the fingerpaints
I love this one!  First we painted with watercolors on coffee filters (might as well, since we don't use 'em for coffee), then cut the filters into leaf shapes.  Next, Bubby and Pal cut paper bags into branch shapes (I got them started with the trunks) and glued them to a piece of paper in the shape of a tree, and finally, they glued the leaves onto their trees.
Here's the aforementioned time-intensive tree trunks kind of look like hands, don't they? 
Next time, I'll trace the kids' hands for the tree trunks. 
What am I saying?  Next time?!  Am I nuts? 
These are for tomorrow's project. 
Can you guess what we're going to do with them?
And that's not all...but it is all for now.  Gotta get some sleep so I'll have energy to guide those children as we transform our gourds tomorrow.
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