Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pumpkin muffins

Our family is pretty fanatical about pumpkin muffins. Most people only eat pumpkin during the fall. We eat it year round - with chocolate chips. My kids don't eat banana bread or pumpkin bread without chocolate chips. I've ruined them in that respect.

The first chocolate chip pumpkin bread I ever had was from our neighbor in AK. Her name was Mary Jane Baer, and I think I even have the recipe card from my mom's collection. It was full of butter and eggs and very good. I made that recipe after I got married for years, but then I found an even better recipe that had orange juice in it. I added fresh grated orange and that became my standard pumpkin bread recipe. We would make it every Sat. morning into muffins, so it would be quicker, and they were usually eaten up by the weekend. I have probably given over a hundred mini loaves to teacher, Sunday School teacher and friends over the years.

A few years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and found that my pumpkin bread wasn't so healthy (yeah, I was in denial). So, I tweaked the recipe, putting in some whole wheat flour, reducing the sugar, even cutting the fat in half. They weren't as perfect as before, but my family was still eating them. Well, now, I am unveiling a new recipe. It is definitely lower in fat, higher in fiber, and my kids are still eating it, but they know the difference-anyway, the older ones do.
I found this recipe from Cooking Light just recently online. BTW, I love online recipes. I love to just search and search and find something to make for dinner, or to bake. I would love to get rid of all my cookbooks, freeing up 2 shelves in my kitchen, and just store my favorite recipes from those cookbooks digitally. Someday, I want to take all my mom's recipe cards and scan them, so they will be in her handwriting and put them in a book for all the women in the family Some day.

Anyway, here is the new recipe, which I have tweaked, adding 1/2 whole wheat flour, some flax, and orange zest.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. canola oil
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg
3 c. flour, 1/2 white, 1/2 wheat
1/4 c. ground flax, or leave it out
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. each ginger and nutmeg
1 1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 bag of chocolate chips
the zest of one orange

preheat oven to 350
Combine first 4 ingredients and mix well. Combine dry ingred. in another bowl and add to wet. Mix until moist. Add zest.

spoon batter into 2 loaf pans coated with cooking spray and bake for 1 hour.

OR spoon into muffin cups and bake 27 min.

YUM! These don't last long around our house. I try to freeze them, and they barely get frozen before someone takes them out and eats them. My big boys eat about 4 or 5 at once, and Ben, will mash them up and add more chocolate chips and melt the whole thing in the microwave and consume a 1 /2 gallon of milk with them. It's disgusting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Abby's birthday school snack

The twins are in separate classes, so I had to make twice the birthday treats this year. Did they want the same thing? Of course not! And, really why should they have to, because they're twins? They already share the same birthday, and usually the party, which we're not having on this year. So, I asked Gabe what he wanted. I was trying to steer both of them toward these very cute birthday cupcake ball things on, but no. Gabe just wanted chocolate cupcakes. I don't even have a picture, because they came out so bad. Because of the Feingold diet, I can't make cakes from a mix, which I never did until we moved here, and cakes from scratch fell time after time. So, I decided to just make the cake on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box, even though, I have a high altitude cookbook and they always turn out when I use it. Will i never learn? Probably not. I don't know why I didn't just use that recipe. I took out the cookbook, looked at it, and then used the one on the cocoa box. So, these cupcakes fell in the middle, after overflowing over the sids sticking to the pan and the adjacent cupcakes. I pretty much had to peel the top layer off of them, after cutting them from the pan (even though I used cupcake papers). I made the chocolate butter frosting, and let Tim frost them. There weren't even enough to cover all the kids in Gabe's class, so I had to take out some frozen peanut butter cupcakes that none of us really liked. Nasty. Some poor kid ate them though.

Abby, on the other hand, wanted fruit skewers with bananas, grapes, and chocolate dipped strawberries. She wanted cantaloupe and pineapple, but I drew the line.

It only took me about 3 hours to make 28 of them. I made extra, for the teachers, since they deserve some kind of treat that isn't a nasty cupcake. Why would it take that long to make a few fruit skewers? Well, I had to get pliers to cut the skewers down, then dip the strawberries, and hunt for a half an hour for something that I could sick the skewers in (an upside down colander) whose holes for the most part, were the right size for the skewers. I then added the grapes, which slid grape juice along the skewer, so I had to wipe that off, then the banana, wipe the banana slime off, then I decided, what the heck, add another strawberry: wipe more juice off the skewer. The end result was pretty. The teachers were impressed-what I live for-not really, but it doesn't hurt. And, most of all, Abby was happy and so were her friends. Yea! I did something right!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ben's 18th Birthday

Wow! Where has the time gone? I now have 2 adult children.

Ben didn't want to have a big birthday party.He told me,"I don't like to celebrate myself, it's dumb." Ben claims most things are "dumb", unless it's Madden football, Star Wars, Willy Wonka, Pooh, tuna melts,chocolate in any form and most of all milk, by the gallon.

So, he requested dinner out and a new cell phone he could text on and money. His favorite store is the dollar store, mainly because he likes to take Gabe there. Nate gave him a gift card to the Dollar Tree. Our friends, Jason and Carrie offered to take our twins to play with their kids. It's kind of weird to exclude them from Ben's celebration, but they wanted to play with their friends, and we knew Ben would have a better time without the whining, and attention getting tactics they use.

So, we had a nice dinner with Ben at Champs, and Ben got a Red Sox jersey from Tim's trip to Boston, his new phone (mentioned earlier) and Gabe and Abby gave him Willy Wonka bars and a stuffed Pooh bear the next day when we celebrated with cake. Ben was too full to have cake when we got home on Sat. night, so we waited until Sunday after church to have the infamous Linda's Fudge Cake (which we had also had the weekend before). It all seemed kind of anticlimactic to me, but he seemed to be happy with how things turned out.

It's so hard when your kids don't want to do things the way you think they should be done. Control. I just don't have it anymore, over the big ones anyway.

build a bear and life.

Gabe and Abby were invited to their little neighbor's birthday party at Build A Bear on Sat. They got to each make a bear, which they love to do. Not only did they get to go to the party, but the little girls' parents took our kids to and from the mall and then kept them for lunch and cake. So, Tim and I got to go out to lunch at La Baguette and really talk.

I have been preparing for a talk I'm giving to MOPS at the end of the month, so I wanted to talk to Tim about our early years of marriage, from his perspective. i knew from my perspective that they weren't great, and I knew that I was the cause of most of the problems, but I had forgotten what a selfish jerk I was. It was kind of depressing, but good. The best part is that God has been merciful and grown us up a lot in the past almost 25 years, and our marriage is stronger than ever. I just wish it could have been that way from the beginning.

Tying shoes

Well, Gabe finally decided to learn how to tie his shoes. He knew how, but he couldn't do it tightly every time. It's hard to find tie on shoes for little kids. They have velcro, or they might have a stretchy laces that don't need tying. We found some shoes he liked, and that day he worked on perfecting tying his shoes. He is now an expert.

Speaking of practicing... On Monday, I had to go shopping with the twins, something I rarely do, because it's usually not a pleasant experience. They were fine for the first 10 or so minutes until we got to the cereal, which also is conveniently the toy aisle (curse you King Sooper's marketing people). The whining began, but then Gabe saw the long empty (except for one lady at the other end) aisle (sometimes it's nice to have a kid with ADD!) He yelled to Abby, "A-bby, run to the other end and watch this!" I could see the wheels turning in his little blonde head. He planned to run the length of the aisle and then slide on his knees. I grabbed his arm before he could execute his plan, and told him to grab on to the cart. Abby then took off for the Easter (seasonal) aisle and he followed. I went to stand in line (good grief, we had only been to two aisles, and they still couldn't behave). I called them back, gritting my teeth and telling them to behave and stay with me.

We got to the check out, and I kept them busy unloading the cart. After that they moved down past the cash register to lay their arms along the conveyor belt and try to stop it. AAGH! I again, gritting my teeth , say in a low voice, "get your hands off of there. It's filthy!" The cashier and bagger are now snickering at this point. The twins are taking things off the belt and trying to "help the bagger" by keeping the items as far away from him as possible. I feel like I have Dennis the Menace and Ramona the Pest with me.

As we are walking out, I tell Thing 1 and Thing 2 that when we get home, they will NOT be playing with their friends or outside or watching TV. They will be practicing good manners. Gabe asks,"How long is that going to take?" I say,"As long as it takes for you to learn some good manners". Abby questions,"SOME?" I say, "I mean ALL good manners." Gabe asks,"How many good manners are there?"

I give up.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Nothing much has been happening around our house this week, except the stomach flu. Nate and I are the only ones who have escaped it, so far, hopefully it won't happen to us. Gabe was home one day, Tim and Ben both stayed home two days. Tim worked both days as evidenced by the headset, or was he talking to his broker...? Yeah, like we have one of those.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Let the glory of the Lord endure forever;
Let the Lord be glad in His works;
He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord. Psalm 104:31-34.

Tiger Cub Hike

Gabe with his friend Isaac on their hike Sat. with the dads and boys from their pack.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Going to the dr. in Denver

Today, Tim, Abby and I went to Denver. She got to come along because she had a fever this morning and didn't feel well. She spent most of the day in the car watching movies and napping. I met Dr. Miller at the Center for Bone Growth. I had a bone density test, which was normal, and then I met with the dr. He wants me to have two pages worth of blood tests (that's 8-10 vials) and some other tests done before my next visit to him in 8 wks. He is testing for all sorts of metabolic disorders to see if this is what is causing lack of bone growth in my ankle. He also talked about a drug called Fosamex, which promotes bone growth, or in rats, bone tumors. Yippee. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The ins. doesn't pay for it in non union of fusions, so it would be a fight.

That aside, the best part of going to Denver, is that my awesome husband maps out any TJ Maxx stores in the vicinity so I can shop for Polish pottery. I only found one piece, but we did manage to spend another 150.00 on all sorts of stuff we couldn't live without, not just at TJ Maxx, which is way better than the ones in here, in town, but also at Tim's favorite, The Container Store. Then, went to the Cheesecake Factory, to purchase the 10 lb Linda's Fudge Cake for Ben's birthday next Sat. (shhh, it's a secret). It actually weighs that much and has about a trillion calories.

Now, we're back home with all our treasures, Abby is wiped out, and I've got my ankle on ice, again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Priceless Quote

Tonight we were talking about something that happened during the day, and one of the kids said the word,"idiot", which then began a discussion of not using that word, followed by Abby asking,"who's an idiot", followed by more discussion about not using that word, which then prompted Gabe to say,"My imaginary friend is an idiot!" Which then made us all laugh, and Ben asked him,"what's his name?" Gabe replied,"George". Then, Ben said,"oh, Curious George?" Which made us laugh more. Explanation: On Sunday mornings, at breakfast, we usually watch Curious George on PBS. It's sort of a family routine, inside joke. When the theme music comes on, the boys sing along in a Louie Armstrong voice, and then I annoyingly mimic the monkey's response(which ,of course ,the man in the yellow hat completely understands) throughout the show. Good times!

Abby's buffaloaf

Tonight, Abby made dinner for us again. She is really learning a lot. She cut up the carrots and celery for the food processor, and she added all the spices and liquid ingredients for the meatloaf. I didn't make her use her hands this time, but she learned how to fold the bison in to the other ingredients and not stretch out the protein, which would make it tough. She even put it in the pan. Then, she ran off to play. Hey, I'll take it. I'm just happy she wants to help, and if it makes her feel important, then all the better!

Camera stolen!

I thought I kept losing my camera, but it turns out, Gabe keeps hiding it in his room and taking pictures. Here is one of the pictures he took of his good buddy, Austyn.


It is an endless battle to get the boys to clean their rooms. Ben and Nate are downstairs, so I rarely see their rooms, or try not to. They are bad. Ben believes cleaning his room involves just spraying Febreze all over everything, piles of clothes, the carpet, the bed, anything and everything. Nate just hoards all the laundry baskets and keeps his dirty/clean clothes in them all the time. Gabe, on the other hand, just never picks anything up. His room is a mine field of legos, clothes, books, toys, papers, rubber bands, pieces of wire, paper clips, and who knows what else. He can't focus long enough to clean his room, and I take risk my ankle, knee, and probably other body parts if I try to navigate the floor. I don't have a wide angle lens to document all the junk on his floor, so this picture doesn't do the title of this post justice.

Catching up again

The other day, Tim went grocery shopping and came home to proudly tell me he had found a basil plant. It's our favorite herb. Um, we have a problem...

Monday, March 1, 2010


Ben's last minute project for Psychology class. He made it out of Sculpey clay, baked, painted, glued and finished at 2 a.m. according to him.

I looks like some sort of dinosaur skeleton to me.