our kind of camping

Last night we indulged in a family activity, and it's one of those that make up for all the "other" ones - by that I mean the ones that involve someone getting mad, sick, peed/thrown up on (both have happened in our family), injured, and others about which everyone is ecstatic when they're over. There is a campground in the northern part of our city with firepits, mountain biking/hiking trails and (gross) public bathrooms (though you are just as well off using a well-hidden spot off one of the aforementioned trails). It has been the location of many a scout campout and youth activity, and is also the perfect spot for our favorite activity - cooking our dinner outside.

We called up some friends who live near us and whom DH and I have known since our high school days (he and the other husband grew up together) and we lugged all our stuff to the first free campsite we could find. The contents of both our vans: hamburgers, buns, stuff to put on the burgers, fruit, corn on the cob, soda, charcoal, water, Dutch oven, ingredients for Double Chocolate Dutch Oven Cake (minus the can of Reddi-Whip, we were later dismayed to find out), 1 lantern, 6 glow sticks, 2 flashlights, 4 adults, 3 girls and 3 boys.

The four older kids had a great time exploring the trails (and the muddy creek) while the moms and dads and little girls got the fire going. The big kids were especially eager to help with the fire; we had an endless supply of sticks, bark, paper plates, etc. brought to us. Finally they trooped back to our campsite, feet muddied and arms mosquito-bitten, ready to eat. We finished the burgers, and settled all the kids on a fallen log near the fire with plates and cups full. That was a sight - 6 kidlets lined up on their seat, cans of soda in hands (a rare treat for both families), full plates on their laps, and mere yards away from a real fire. One of them joyfully raised his soda can as if for a toast, and you could clearly imagine what they might toast: "To...FIRE!" Everyone enjoyed some corn on the cob - Flip's fond farewell to it, unfortunately, as he is heading off to the orthodontist this week to have an expander installed in his upper palate - and of course, there was Dutch oven cake and s'mores to follow. Dark came on, the glow sticks were distributed, and shortly our campsite was raided by shadowy figures trailing blue, purple, pink and yellow streaks which shot through the air. Soon it was time to go, and it all had to be packed up - kids, food, glow sticks, cool rocks, snail shells and muddy socks. We said goodbye to our "camp"site and our friends, and the night was over.

No, it wasn't camping for real, but as far as we're concerned, we still got the best part of camping - cooking and eating outside, running around in the dark with lights, and of course...no one threw up. (This time.)


as martha stewart as i get

I learned how to decorate these cookies at a R.S. Super Saturday a few years ago, and I was asked to teach a class on it this month for our ward's R.S. How-To group. (I don't have many skills I can teach a How-to group how to; this is probably the only one.) Anyway, I had to take a picture to email with the invite, so I thought I'd share. This is another one of those skills that I've acquired that takes lots of time/work/energy but isn't always appreciated by its recipients (most of whom have been kids). But it's so darn fun!

10 green thumbs (we hope)

This week we finished a monumental project - a backyard garden. I have been bugging DH for several springs to help me put one in, and this year, he gave in. No really, we decided TOGETHER that it would be a good family project.

Daddy and the kids worked hard on digging out the grass for three 4' x 4' boxes and we all helped to build the boxes with landscaping timbers. Dad, being the carpenter at heart that he is, insisted on very square corners and level sides (Mom even leveled one of the boxes!), and as you can see, they look great! The boys were good workers. They did their jobs - carrying sod, digging Texas clay out of the boxes, hammering stakes, handing Dad tools/screws/rebar/lumber, squirting Liquid Nails - without (much) complaining, and handled themselves reasonably well in Home Depot while Mom shopped for seeds and plants. Even Miss Bee helped with the digging and also filled in the space around each box with soil when the boxes were finished. I am pretty proud of those kids.

We planted (and hopefully will harvest) watermelon, cantaloupe, butternut squash, tomatoes (cherry and Roma), rosemary, Italian parsley, basil, cilantro, sweet red peppers, green beans and sweet corn. Check back periodically to see if our thumbs are still green!
(I know one of the pictures is sideways; I'm still figuring out how to rotate it.)


contents of my head, vol. 3

I just drove back from the pharmacy. Something horrible has happened. I was listening to the radio, and I heard Huey Lewis & the News' "Power of Love"...on the oldies station. I can't be that old.


april fool

Yesterday, we had a little April Fool's Day celebration. Normally I don't really go to much trouble for holidays - even Christmas is a little low-key around here, compared to other Texas-sized celebrations. But this was too cute to resist. Yes, it involves food - however did you guess???

I know I have both sung praises to and cursed the name of Family Fun magazine; this is a praise. They have several ideas for April Fool's Day pranks each year, and this year we tried "Chicken Not-Pie." The recipe is here. Basically, it's a "pie" made with vanilla pudding and various candies cut or shaped to look like carrots, peas, bits of chicken, etc. Not hard at all to make, but sort of frustrating to have to buy a whole bag of a particular kind of candy just to use a few pieces. Buying from the bulk candy aisle is cheaper (money- and calorie-wise, since if you buy the whole bag of candy, *someone* has to eat all the pieces that don't go into the pie). This gave me an excuse to visit a vintage candy store in our city's historic downtown area, which has dozens of jars of all kinds of candy sold by the quarter pound. I used green apple Now & Laters for the peas, orange and lemon Starbursts for the carrots and corn, and Squirrel Nut Zippers for the chicken. And I only had to buy a few pieces! I made enough pies for the kids (the results were just too sickening-sweet for their parents' palates) and Flip was pretty much the only one who ate some, but this really didn't bother me. Maybe it was because I got to have my fun trying it out, and I wasn't out that much money. It was enough of a celebration for our family, and just like Christmas, the ratio of the time spent in preparation to the time the kids spent enjoying the results was typically out of proportion, but it wasn't the end of the world. What'll we tackle next April 1st? Maybe a larger-scale prank, food-involved or not! Thanks for reading!