Saturday, April 16, 2016

Blake is 4!

As usual, better late than never. It's been 3 months now that we've had a 4 year old in the house and boy is it an adventure! Blake is a fun loving, adventurous, stubborn, and particular little boy and we couldn't love him more!

For months he had been talking about his "tractor" birthday because he loves all things farm. But just a week before his birthday, we were looking at cake ideas and he spied a monster truck cake and there was no going back to tractors. The cake turned out great and he loved it!

He now loves to play with his monster trucks and even pulls some of his farm wagons, trailers, and balers with his trucks. I guess that's what all the hip farmers are doing these days :)
 I bought a new 12x12 cake pan for this cake and I love it. I made the cake marble with 2 cake mixes and then did a little cutting and pasting to make the ramps. The "rocks" are Whoppers and Milk Duds. A few toothpicks helped keep the trucks in place on the ramps.
He's all smiles!
 For the actual birthday party we celebrated at the Barnes' house in Pella with Grandma Pontier, who was visiting at the time. 

 Happy 4th Birthday Blake!
 Licking the frosting off the trucks was the best part of course.
 Opening gifts.
 Some new farm toys, books, and tools.
 Blake got to celebrate one more time a few weeks later with the other January birthdays on the De Vries side of the family. This cake wasn't as cool, but still tasted great.
 Happy Birthday Carol, Blake, and Grandma De Vries!
Blake was a little sick of smiling at this point. It looks like he's laughing, 
but he's actually crying a little :( He perked up while opening a few more gifts :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas 2015

Wow! Did the month of December just fly by or what?! We stayed very busy with regular family stuff, farming, school, and extra holiday get-togethers. It was filled with lots of great memories too! Here are a few highlights in pictures.

Our family Christmas card picture.
Blake - 3 1/2, Rebecca - 8, Brianna - 2 years

We got to celebrate my brother Jon's birthday on the 23rd when his family came to stay with us over Christmas. I had fun making a cupcake Christmas tree - although I'm sure it was not his first in his 37 years :)
Lots of baby holding with new cousin Hannah.
Brianna and Deborah just happen to have the same pajamas! 
Brianna is in LOVE with "baby!" (Hannah)
Christmas Eve box. The kids enjoyed new pjs and the movie Rio. (Brianna refused to be in the picture!)
The kids in their new jammies. Blake is giving you his best dinosaur face!
Christmas morning stockings before church.
After church on Christmas morning, we spent the day at the Barnes' house (my sister Grace's family), exchange gifts with the cousins, and ate way too many yummy treats. Sadly, I failed to take any pictures while we were there! We headed home in the evening so the kids could enjoy a few more presents from us.

Brianna and Blake got new Lego sets to play with.
Rebecca with her new favorite shirt!
On Saturday, the 26th, Dan's family came to our house to celebrate together. The kids loved more cousin time! They also had a lot of fun with a candy cane pick-up game Aunt Linda supervised!
Blake is trying his best to hook that candy cane!
The De Vries Grandparents with all the grand kids.
We each took turns taking a family picture - some where less cooperative than others.
Dan's brother Andy with Carol and Brooke and Katie.
Dan's sister Debbie with Greg and Allison, Jessica, and Trevor.
More gifts again! Blake loves all his new farm toys, despite the look on his face :)
We had a great time with family and friends, but above all, we remember the birth of our Savior. We live each day to glorify God's name in thanksgiving for the gift of sending his Son.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Look Who's 2!

Our baby turned 2 on October 28! 
As always, it's crazy how fast the years go! Brianna Joy is really a "joy" to our family. More often than not, she is happy, smiling, and laughing. People/strangers often comment that she is a happy girl and freely gives out smiles. She is just starting to talk (real words) when prompted and loves to "sing" loudly in the car. 
She's not really "into" anything at this age so I wasn't quite sure how to decorate her cake, but when I saw a full sized Care Bear at the store I knew that would be great for her. Last year for Halloween I turned one of her sweatsuits into a Care Bear costume and she was SUPER cute! And it was a little throwback to my own childhood of having a Care Bear and mom making my sisters and me matching Care Bear sweatsuits.

Here's some pictures of the Birthday Girl!
Happy Girl!

Not a bad family picture ;)
"Two" - Brianna is pretty good at saying the word two.
Plenty of gifts to open!
A new Lego set - she loves the car it came with.
Her very own Care Bear! She sleeps with it every night now. It also came with a short DVD and she has watching it MANY times already.
Here is a the picture of her as a one year old Care Bear - so cute!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Rebecca turns 8!

Happy 8th Birthday to Rebecca on August 31!

She had been "planning" her birthday celebration for the last 6 months, but when it came down to the real deal, it was pretty low key. Her birthday was a Monday on which day both Dan and I had meetings at night, so we had a very early family meal together followed by cake and presents.
Rebecca picked the menu of chicken nuggets, potato fries, corn, and applesauce. She also wanted a watermelon cake (a strawberry flavored cake with mini chocolate chips in the batter and decorated like a watermelon slice) after seeing a picture of one on Pinterest.
Part 2 of her birthday celebration was 2 weeks later on a Saturday when we got together with Dan's family. Aunt Linda came to pick up Rebecca in the morning and they spent a good part of the day together shopping and eating out - generally spoiling Rebecca rotten, which she loved!! Thanks Aunt Linda!! At night, all the De Vries' came over to celebrate Rebecca's birthday and her cousins Brooke and Katie's 4th birthday. The younger girls wanted a Frozen cake, so I made a double layer cake that could be reversed for all of the girls. 
On the other side it says, "Happy Birthday Brooke and Katie" and we just turned the figurines around - worked perfect!
 All the birthday girls :)

 Make a wish!

Rebecca loved her new Legos, clothes, devotional, whiteboard markers, and few other goodies.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Award Winning Cookies

As promised, here are the recipes for the two cookies I made for Prairie Day's Grandma Marilyn's Chocolate Cookie Contest.

I've always loved to bake more than cook and I have a pretty receptive audience at home. If there are no baked goods in the house for more than a day or two, I'll hear about it :) 

The first recipe is for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies that won first prize for the classic chocolate chip catagory. I found the original recipe in the Western Christian Cookbook, which I got from my good friend Cara for either a wedding or shower gift. At first I was a little hesitant to use it because after all, Western was our biggest high school rival, but after looking through it a few times I realized it is the best collection of "Northwest Iowa/Dutch pot luck" recipes. It's my go-to cookbook for hometown comfort food. 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups and 4 tablespoons flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

*you may need to add another tablespoon or 2 of flour depending on how soft your dough is. You want it to "sag" a little bit but not a lot. I have made this recipe almost 100 times and have learned from experience what the dough needs to look like.

Mix first 5 ingredients well and then add dry. Mix until combined and then add chips. Make cookies about 2-3 tablespoons - I use a medium cookie scoop. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should be slightly brown around the edges and still look a little wet/soft in the middle. Let cool completely (if you can wait that long :)

These cookies are so soft and will stay soft. I love to use this recipe to make ice cream cookies because even in the freezer the cookies stay soft. They will start to dry out a little after a few days, but they hardly ever last that long in our house!

Here is the recipe that won 2nd place in the catagory that allowed added ingredients to a chocolate chip cookie. I found this recipe on Pinterest while searching for recipes using dried cherries - I just happened to have some that I wanted to use up. The original recipe was from the Rachael Ray magazine and I changed it slightly. I actually made these for the first time the week of the competition, altered the recipe slightly, and made them one more time for the judges. 

Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries and Pecans
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cups chopped dried cherries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients and oatmeal. Mix in pecans, cherries, and chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least an hour. Make cookies about 2-3 tablespoons - I use a medium cookie scoop. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned on edges and top. (You don't want these cookies to be gooey in the center like the previous recipe). Let cool completely.

I hope you enjoy these cookies!! I've already started searching out recipes to try for next year's competition. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

540 KWMT Feed the Farmer

540 KWMT radio station hosts a few Feed the Farmer lunches in the spring and fall and this week Dan was picked as the winner! Duane Murley came out on Friday, June 12th and did his broadcast live from our house. He came around 8:30 in the morning and did a few market reports. Then around noon he interviewed both Dan and I about our farming operation and life on the farm with our kids. It was pretty neat to hear a voice from the radio in our own living room. Rebecca also got to answer a few questions on the radio and Blake said,"Go!" a few times to get Duane started.
Duane Murley giving a market report. He would make a recording and then send it to the station and they would air it with in a few minutes.
Nice wheels Duane!

We also received lunch catered by Our Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe in Griswold. We invited a few extra friends over to enjoy lunch with us. We had a full house, but it was a great time!
Lunch included, beef and gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, watermelon, and peach and apple pie. It was very good and thankfully there were a few left overs!
We had a full house and Duane just kept right on working as we all talked and ate lunch. 
This is Carl and Duane. Carl was the sponsor representative from Prairie Creek Seeds.
Here are Carl and Duane with Paul, another employee of the radio station, and his wife Carol. Paul and Carol were the ones who picked up lunch in Griswold and drove it to our house - about 2 hours. 

What a unique experience to have a radio broadcast right in our living room. Everyone we met was so kind and gracious. I even had a great chat with Carol (wife of Paul) who grew up in Sioux Center!
Thank you 540 KWMT for a great day with Feed the Farmer!