Monday, September 22, 2014

I'm not really an animal person

This might surprise some of you seeing that I am a farmer's wife. But for the record, I am not an animal person. For me this means that I do not find great pleasure in being with or taking care of animals and I have no significant attachment to any pet. That being said, I'm very far from being an animal hater, especially when in comes to kittens. I have a slight soft spot for kittens.
This is Copy Cat, she looks exactly like her mother Spotty.
Back in the summer of 2012 we got 5 kittens free from a garage sale. Life on the farm can be hard for cats and by the end of the winter we only had 2 left and one was going to have kittens of her own. Today we only have one of the original 5, Spotty, and she is our mama cat and has had about 12 babies that we know off. Not all of these kittens have been tame, which is fine by me, I'm no cat herder and the more tame they are the more they follow you around and get under foot. 

The kids are definitely loving a few of the newest kittens. There are 3 tame ones out of the five that Spotty had about a month ago.
Brianna loves to watch the kitties through the window. She squeals at them!
Copy Cat is our favorite, but she is also the runt and as of now is not fairing so well.
Here is Brianna with Peaches and Cream. A little blurry because neither kittens nor one year olds sit still!
Holding Copy Cat.
She's in love!
The other new kittens who are not tame are Fudge (an all black kitten) and S'more (who looks like Copy Cat, but with a different spot pattern).

Friday, September 19, 2014

SMILE! New Family Photos!

After after agonizing about outfits, waiting for decent weather, and deciding on a location, we finally got together with our friend Andrea and she took some beautiful pictures of our family. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back in the Kitchen Again

With all my new found time being a stay at home mom, I have found myself in kitchen a lot more. I have never loved cooking or eating exquisite food, but I do enjoy it most of the time as long as it doesn't involve a lot of work. I have also felt like an outsider in my family of culinary masters with my lack of enthusiasm for the kitchen, but maybe I'm finally catching up.

When I was working, my lack of time and enjoyment of cooking made for quick and easy meals. We had our usual meals - tacos, pasta, sloppy joes, take and bake pizza, hamburgers, and pancakes or eggs, with an occasional frozen casserole thrown in there. We ate pretty healthy with vegetables and fruit sides, but our meals were nothing to get too excited about. It has always been important to us to sit down as a family to eat, so we did, just with as little planning and preparation work as possible in order for me to keep my sanity.

Now that I am home during the day, I can start thinking about supper long before 5pm. I also have more time to grocery shop and therefore make better lists thinking about meals we would like to eat and trying new recipes.
The beginnings of apple butter.
A few culinary success I have had in the last few weeks have been a batch of apple butter, sweet potato chip, garlic honey pork chops, homemade pizza, and a few different bread recipes.

Fried sweet potato chips with a touch of salt - Rebecca's favorite!
Pork chops with a garlic honey glaze.
Apple butter almost ready to go in jars.
 I'm so happy that I am enjoying working in the kitchen more now that I have more time. I recently read an article online about whether or not family dinners were an unrealistic expectation for moms. I didn't agree with much in the article, but for me the take home message was that we/families are just much too busy in general. Did I resent having to make a decent meal for my family after working all day at my job, coming home exhausted, and just wanting to put my feet up? Most nights, yes. 

Staying at home with the kids is anything but glamorous, but for the health of our family life, I am so glad I am able to do it right now. And my families' stomachs are liking it too! 
He's just eating ice cream, but who could deny that smile any good food?!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rebecca's 7th Birthday!

The last year went FAST and now Rebecca is 7 years old. She decided on a Rainbow theme for her birthday after seeing a rainbow layer cake on Pinterest (of course, where else would we look for anything :). We decided to use gumballs to decorate the cake. She shared this party with her two cousins who were turning 3, and her aunt, so I made a large cupcake for each of them with their birthday number on it out of gumballs.
The rainbow theme was very easy to decorate for - multi-colored plates and napkins, juice boxes, and fun straws - there is something about twisty straws that kids go bonkers for!

Blake (2 1/2), Rebecca (7), Brianna (10 months)
This is a little banner I made to go on the top of the cake, but I didn't really think about the size while making it and it ended up too big so I improvised a little. I picked these little buckets up at Target a few years ago in the dollar bins and they have been worth every penny. I have used them for so many parties in various ways. So cute!
Here are the girls and their cupcakes! Happy Birthday Rebecca, Brooke, and Katie! (Aunt Debbie also got a cupcake with her birthday number on it, but I didn't get a picture of her.)

Here is the big cake reveal!!
 It turned out so great! I was so happy how it went together and looked! Honestly, one of the easier cakes I've made for a birthday so far.
 It tasted just as good as it looked!

Here is a little "how to" of the cake: I used 2 white cake mixes. The first mix I divided equally into 4 bowls (about 2 1/2 cups of batter each) and used food coloring paste to color the batter. I was impressed with how bright the batter was without having to use a ton of coloring.
 I only have two 8 inch round pans so the baking took a little patience. I lined the pan each time with parchment paper to ensure the cakes would not stick - nothing worse than trying to flip the cake out of the pan and have it stick and crumble! They baked for about 15 minutes each. Blake was a big "helper" :) Do you see his blue face?
First 4 layers done. 
The second cake mix made the last 2 layers (blue and purple) and then I made 4 large cup cakes for each of the birthday girls.
 When all the layers were baked and cooled, I mixed up my favorite frosting recipe (Wilton Butter cream frosting) and put a thin layer of frosting between each colored cake. I made the frosting softer than I use for piping so that I didn't tear the cake apart trying to frost it.
 Finally, I added a row of stars around the bottom and a few on the top and put a gum ball on each star. I put the gum balls in rainbow order on around the bottom and the pattern came out perfectly!
 This cake turned out perfect inside and out! And honestly, it was the easiest of all the baked birthday cakes I've made for my kids so far.