Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tamale Making 2014

Almost immediately after my parents left I decided I absolutely had to have homemade tamales. I've made them a couple of times before and it's a LOT of work! I wish I'd decided to make them while they were still here.  

Cooking/shredding the meat and making the masa is pretty much a day's work. Spreading the masa and rolling the tamales really needs to happen on the second day if you want to walk upright to bed (vs. crawl) . That's the way it is for me, anyway. I'm sure there are plenty of people who can do it all in one day but not me. When I grew up tamale making happened at my Grandmother's (we grandkids call her "Mom") house and there were usually 6-8 people around the table working together. Fortunately, I was able to enlist Dave's help this year. I spread the masa and he filled, rolled, and tied them. Solana actually spread a few, too, but then decided she had better things to do. She did about 3, I think. Maybe next year she'll do a whole half dozen :-)

We made about 11 dozen of mostly pork and also some bean/jalapeno tamales. They came out pretty good but I think I overcooked them just a bit.

I love tamales! They're especially good with a nice big guacamole salad and maybe some refried beans with Spanish rice. Yum! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Grammy and Grampy Visit!

We were supposed to travel to Texas for Christmas but we decided at the last minute to stay in Ohio. Grammy and Grampy decided to visit us! We had a lovely visit and here are some of the highlights:

We're all dressed up and heading out to dinner! Unfortunately, I had to set up the camera on the counter, which isn't high enough, so the picture is sort of looking up all our noses. :-)

Dave and the girls always put out cookies and then read the Night Before Christmas. 


We went to the zoo one day. It.was.cold.But it was nice to get out of the house for a bit. It wasn't so bad after we had been walking around, either. The only bad part was eating lunch outside as soon as we got there. Maybe we should have packed hot soup instead of sandwiches…
My parents were so cold! They're not used to the Ohio cold weather. I sewed them some fleece pajama bottoms and I think they loved them!
 Grammy reading to the girls.

We spent a lot of time hanging around the house. There's not too much else to do in such cold weather. I was worried that my parents might be too bored but I think they enjoyed the relaxation. We had time for a few selfies, at least.

More relaxation at home. Grampy even dozed on the couch a few times!
 Cooking with my mom. We made my favorite soup, Tomato, Kale, and Barley. And after all the healthy vegetarian meals, my Dad even said he slept better at night!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gingerbread Houses!

I wanted to try something new this year - homemade gingerbread houses! I was a little nervous but did my research and picked out a gingerbread house recipe and template from the web. The only problem is that I'm now writing this blog post 6 months later and realize that I didn't save the recipe! Woe is me! I have no idea which one I picked and I know that I picked the dough, icing, and templates all from different websites. LOL! Ahhhh! Ah well. Holiday craziness strikes again! 

My friend, Donna, came over to help us build them. She and Solana worked on one house while Chloe and I worked on another. Our competitive spirits kicked in and we decided to make it a contest with Daddy voting on the best house when he arrived home. It was all very exciting.
We all worked hard and loaded down those houses with as much fancy candy as possible. A few pieces didn't quite make it onto the houses and ended up in little mouths, instead...

Donna and Solana made the house with the brick work. That won it for them. 
We'll have a re-match next year. :-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Woodland Lights 2013

We seem to have a lot of family holiday traditions. Apple picking, pumpkin patch, cookies for Santa… It's pretty cool. I hope all these traditions give the girls warm cozy feelings inside and that they will remember our traditions fondly. It makes blogging a little difficult, though, since I just write about the same stuff every year! But it will be fun to look back and see how the girls have changed/grown since our last adventure! Here are our pictures from last year! 2012 Woodland Lights

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camping - Hocking Hills

Our second camping trip this year and second time tent camping with the girls and dogs was a huge success! Apparently, our practice round earlier this year paid off. The tents went up easier, we were less stressed out about letting Chloe walk around a bit, and best of all it didn't rain! The weather was actually fantastic.
Here are our tents. The girls and the dogs shared the green tent (we figured Monty would protect them from any curious critters) and we had the red one. It wasn't nearly as romantic as I imagined... 

We left home Friday afternoon. Dave and Solana got home from work/school and we were gone within a couple hours. We arrived at the campsite around 6pm and it wasn't too long before we were ready for a fire. Here are the girls enjoying the fire with their milk.

 Here's Chloe's post-s'mores face.We can't let a single night go by without s'mores. I saw all kinds of camping dessert ideas online. Some fancy and some clever. We tried the banana boat dessert once. But you just can't beat a good 'ol s'more. I'm not sure I'll bother with any clever camping desserts again.
The girls were so excited to get into their tents! Chloe didn't sleep well, though, and woke up crying in the middle of the night with half her body off of her air mattress. I'm not sure but I think Bluebell might have knocked her off on purpose...

 Saturday arrived and we breakfasted on ham, egg, and cheese burritos by the fire. After a proper fueling-up for a day in the woods we headed out for our big hike. We hit the path for Cedar Caves - an easy 2.5mile hike on the trails. Chloe is using her binoculars.

Solana's ready to go!!! I love how the girls dress for camping. The mismatched outfits and knee-high socks are my kind of outfit! Practical and somehow still adorable.

We passed some amazing cliffs. Solana is not like me in many ways but one thing she did seem to inherit from me is her fear of heights. She was less than pleased as Dave stood at the ledge. And she nervously warned me to be careful as I picked my way slowly in a crouching position just close enough to say I looked over.

Crossing over a dam.

Dave pushed Chloe in the stroller most of the way but finally pooped out and handed her over to me. No sooner did I take the stroller than we rounded a corner to find an extremely steep downhill. I was sure I'd lose my footing and fall down. Had I done that the stroller would have gone careening down the hill with me dragging behind as the safety-wrist-strap connected me to the stroller. I had this vision very clearly as I started heading down and then promptly gave the stroller back to Dave. An avid trail runner, though, I was more than happy to trot down ahead, disregarding Dave's repeating requests for me to walk, and get a picture of Dave navigating both the stroller and Solana (see the walking cane he's holding for her) down the hill. Dad of the year, I say.

Chloe walked for a little while. But, as you can see, we were in an out of shadows. It makes it hard for someone with full vision to maneuver the light transition visually.  Between the light and the multitude of roots, rocks, and sticks in the path I forced her to hold hands. We were pretty slow-going so we only let her walk for a short while. 

By the time we got to the falls we had been hiking for (I estimate) 2.5 hours and were pretty tired. Dave decided to leave us with Bluebell and hike back with Monty to get the van. This sounded fine to me except for the fact that he wanted to leave us at the top of a terrifying staircase down to the falls. It was one-person wide with open rails on the side. Either Bluebell or Chloe could have easily fallen right out. Dave saw me paralyzed by fear as I attempted the decent and changed plans. Thank goodness because I would have had a heart attack trying to hold Bluebell's leash and Chloe. I was just sure Bluebell would give a good tug knocking me off balance and one, if not all, of us would go plummeting down the side of the cliff. Here we are safely at the bottom and walking around the "falls." Unfortunately there wasn't any water falling but it was still pretty. 
Then Dave left us and we ascended a more gradual (and less frightening) path to the top where we found a parking lot, picnic ground, and bathroom. We parked our tired butts at a picnic bench, ate leftover burritos, and snacked on trail mix as 

Dave and Monty hiked it 2.5 miles back to camp. 
Dave's boss and his wife, Dave and Dorothy Goe, rode their motorcycle out to meet us and arrived just as Dave picked up the girls and me. They also traveled with a couple other of Dave's colleagues. After a quick stop at our campground we headed out again to visit Old Man's Cave.
Again, the decent and climbs were a tad been dicey but it was so pretty there. 

Dave's boss, Dave Goe is on the left. Another colleague, Orville, is on the right.

 S'mores night 2

Bluebell love 

Final breakfast at the campground. 

Two pooped dogs.

 This is how I look when we're camping. I don't even pack makeup and I'm not ashamed of it. Girls, this is what your Mommy looks in real life. You might as well get me that way in pictures. I don't usually endorse pictures when I look like this but it seems approrpiate for camping...

More Bluebell love on the way home.