Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli, lollipop

Yesterday, I stumbled across the amazingly talented Jenny, of Lollipop Workshop. She has THE cutest little shop on Etsy. Pure eye candy, if you ask me. Oh how I heart Etsy!

Just look at these beauties. I found most of them by perusing her sold items, but I bet she would do a custom order for you.

Here are some of my favorites...

This little bird is so stinkin' cute!

Photobucket

Oh...those mushrooms and lollipops!

Photobucket

And cotton candy. My girls would flip over this one.

Photobucket

Do you see the little mice?


Photobucket

Awe...candle holders. I remember something similar to these at Christmastime growing up. Little elves I think?

Photobucket

Love the buns and the pink hair.

Photobucket

Now that's my kind of angel!

Photobucket

Sweet, sweet little bunny.

Photobucket

Have you been checking out all the different hair-dos? And how on earth is that pot staying put?

Photobucket

A happy little baker. Look at the sweet aqua polka dot plate? I wish I had a cupboard full of those myself.

Photobucket

Oh la la!

Photobucket

Love the ear muffs! Where does she get all those adorable little props?

Photobucket

Makes me wish I had a table top, white feather, Christmas tree to decorate. Can't you just see a little Angel-Lolli sitting on top with Lolli ornaments all over the tree. What a fun addition they would be to my felt and sequin vintage finds.

Photobucket

Have you been noticing all their striped tights?

Photobucket

And how in the world did she make this super teeny tiny cut-out row of paper dolls?

Photobucket

Be still my heart...cupcake toppers! Does the cuteness ever stop?

Photobucket

These little guys remind me of a vintage baby mobile I have in a closet somewhere. Must get it down. Soon.

Photobucket

Wouldn't this be adorable on top of a little girls' Birthday cake? Or remember those little porcelain figureines that held a different number for each year? I had a small collection of those and I'm sad to say i gave them away to goodwill years ago. Gulp.

Photobucket

And how about one for the big girls? What a fun bridal shower gift this would make.

Photobucket

I think I need to add some of these to my girls' spool dolly collection real soon. They would fit right in, don't you think?

So go check out her shop. She's super nice too. Thanks Jenny, for letting me borrow your gorgeous photos!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playset Raising

We have THE best friends in the whole wide world. Friends that will spend their entire week-end at our house building a playset for our children. With only the satisfaction of a job well done and yummy food as compensation. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts and the bottom of our little ones feet who happily play all over their "park" every day.

Farewell to you garden. In this season of life, a playset just makes the most sense. We promise to reprise your role in a sunnier spot next year. I do believe David felt physical pain when he removed the asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries, beans and peas. And finally put his foot down when it came to the carrots and beets, determined to let them live another month.

Photobucket

We still need to add more dirt to make it level with the retaining wall and then lay sod so our kids aren't literally playing in dirt forever. Let's just say my carpet will thank us when we do.

There was much girl-wrangling to be done.

By young...

Photobucket

...and old.

Photobucket

Sorry Jeff, just realized I called ya old. Relatively speaking you know. But, now that I think about it, you are a couple of years my senior. I mean, not that your are anywhere near being a Senior, yet. Oh, you're over half-way there? Do forgive me for bringing it up. I promise I won't do it again. Or not.

Holly was my partner in crime, as well as wife to the other Dave and mother to the adorable little girl and redhead. We probably took more pictures than necessary and neglected our kid wrangling duties a few too many times.

Photobucket

It's hard to get much done with four, four year-olds under foot. But I wouldn't know, I was taking pictures.

Photobucket

It looked really difficult from behind the lens though.

The third Amigo is Jeff's daughter.

Photobucket

There was a lot of this going on.

Photobucket

Some of this.

Photobucket

I love his crooked little teeth. They may be crooked, but they are perfectly crooked. No?

Photobucket

And a bit of this.

Photobucket

And even some raspberry picking from the neighbor's garden. I promise, "Mrs. Debs", they only ate the ones they could reach from our side of the fence. Just like you taught them. Pay no attention to how adept they've gotten at pulling the branches closer to the fence. Don't worry, we'll replace the 1,428 bushels of raspberries they've consumed, later this fall. We'll be dumping them on your doorstep, so be ready to start preserving. I'd hate to see them go to waste. Just sayin' is all.

Photobucket

And who is this handsome Debil? Doesn't he look mischievous?

Photobucket

That was right before he decided this was a good idea.

Photobucket

Mr. S thought so too. Thanks Jenn, for the onesies! We love hand-me-downs. :)

Photobucket

I can't blame them really. Because this photo would make a fabulous 1st birthday party invite (try not to notice that I chopped off his foot).

Photobucket

Jeff, being the engineer that he is, was assigned the role of contractor. You know, (in geek speak) the guy you contract out to, to build all the components so you can put them together and look like the hero and you don't have to provide 401k or insurance to? But that's ok, he didn't need 401k or insurance, so I think he was fine with it. Jeff did a fabulous job of building the ladder, rock climbing wall, and tic-tac-toe board.

Photobucket

While the structural work was left to "the Dave's."

Don't they look all professional here? Right after this piece was screwed in, I, in all my womanly wisdom came over to inspect it. Did you guys make sure it's level? You did? Oh. Do you think it matters that the ground it's on isn't level? I don't think they will live that one down. In fact I plan on reminding them every chance I get. Sorry guys, that's just how I am. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Photobucket

All joking aside, well not really...don't you think it's cute how the Dave's coordinated their outfits? I must have missed that early morning call of "Hey, whatcha wearing today?"

But I shouldn't speak. Ever the hostess with the mostess, I managed to bring out bowls of watermelon just as they were doing the tough over-the-head work and couldn't possibly take a break. That probably wasn't very nice of me. I won't win any hostess awards.

Photobucket

In all seriousness (seriously this time), they all did a fabulous job of installing the playset. They made it through all 33 man hours, over two days, without a single accident. OSHA would be proud of you. I know I am.

We were so thankful to be able to get this playset for free, through David's work. Sure, it's not the best set out there and it's only made of treated pine. Yikes! But we'll be diligent to stain and varnish it as much as it takes to make it last as long as it can. We feel so blessed to be able to have this for our children, in the safety of their own backyard. What a treat!

Just the other day, David sent me this e-mail:
"Check out this other playset from the same manufacturer of ours. When our ship comes in and we are awash in cash, having fully funded the work of Christ, we'll get one of these for the kiddos."

Having fully funded the work of Christ...makes my heart sing. I love the way he thinks. I'm so happy God paired me with you!

David works for a company that does incentive programs for other companies and their employees get the added perk of earning points to purchase things from their catalogs too (he's a Sr. Unix Admin and runs the servers that run their clients incentive program sites).

Sorry we couldn't also get the flat screen TV, Dear. That's next! But I know our children love that you worked so hard to get them this. If the countless days of hearing "are you winning me a playset Daddy?" aren't proof enough, the look on their faces is. You are their Hero! What could be better than that? Well, don't ask Allison, she might say a pony.


Photobucket

Photobucket

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Photobucket

Mmm....Chicken Tortilla Soup! I've never actually ordered it in a restaurant. Frankly the idea never sounded yummy to me and I'm not one to order something new unless I'm certain I'll enjoy it. What a waste of money it would be to end up with a dud.

But, when I found this recipe, something just clicked and I could tell this would be awesome. And guess what...it is. I think my favorite part are the tomatoes and the corn tortillas, but it's all delish. Try it, you'll see what I mean. Or not. Really, it's up to too. I'm just here to show you how tasty it is.

For the full recipe, in an easy to print format, go here.

I started out with a whole cut up chicken (bones and all). It was on special at the supermarket this week. I added half an onion, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, 3 cups of water and salt and pepper to make the stock too. You can cook your chicken any old way or pick up a rotisserie chicken and use store bought stock if you like. It will save you a bit of time.

Photobucket

I let it cook on high for about 6 hours. If you are going to be gone for the day, put it on low and let it cook all day. Your house will smell great when you get home. Like chicken soup. And it looked like this when it's ready.

Photobucket

You'll need to separate the meat and put it aside for your soup. I don't remember how much it yielded. Definitely more than the 12oz called for. I meant to save about half for my Cocka-Doodle Chicken Noodle Soup later this week. But I forgot. I do that sometimes.

Photobucket

Next, strain the liquid from your cock-pot. Discard everything else. I ended up with almost 4 cups. I added enough ice to reach 4 cups and then put in the fridge to separate the fat. I spooned off the top layer of fat and ended up with this. It's highly concentrated. I later added 4 cups of water to it since you need 8 cups of stock for this recipe.

Photobucket

Chop up your onion, celery and carrots and place the mire poi plus 2 Tb vegetable oil and 1 clove of minced garlic in a pot to saute.

Photobucket

Add your salt and pepper. I don't have a photo, but also add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Photobucket

Add the can of diced tomatoes, Rotel and packet of taco seasoning* and chicken. I used regular diced tomatoes this time, but remembered later that the petite diced are really nice for this soup.

Photobucket

You may need to watch your step if you have a blueberry throwing little boy supervising you. It can get squishy.

Photobucket

I cut the tortillas into about 1" squares. I actually used 13 tortillas, instead of 10. I like them, that's why. Whatcha gonna do about it?

Photobucket

Photobucket

Let boil for 20 minutes or until tortillas are thoroughly incorporated. It's very important to stir often or they will stick to the bottom of the pot.

Photobucket

Shred the monterey jack cheese. It may seem like too much, but really it's not.

Photobucket

Reduce heat and add the yummy cheese. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Photobucket

Add 1 cup of milk and simmer 10 more minutes.

Photobucket

Serve to your starving family.

Photobucket

And enjoy!

Photobucket

I don't know if this freezes well. I've never tried it. But I suspect it would be best to freeze half before you add the tortillas.

*Make your own taco seasoning
1/4 cup instant minced onion
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. crushed dried red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. instant minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and blend thoroughly with wire whisk. Spoon mixture into a tightly closed container and label as "Taco Seasoning Mix". Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Makes 6 packages (about 2 Tbsp. each) of mix. 2 Tbsp. equals 1.25-oz. pkg. purchased taco seasoning mix. Later 2Tb mix, and 1/2C water to 1# cooked beef or chicken.