Today–12/9/13

Dusk is falling.  It’s one of those snowy dusks, which translates into everything just turning blue.  It’s really pretty.  Especially when viewed while drinking a dairy-free o.k.-sugar mocha.  Yes, I have FINALLY cracked the code and found out how to make a (see above).  Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.

Now I am (should be making) dinner.  And I should be posting about our lovely Thanksgiving (and my first 5k!) and our Winter trip to Branson (we got snowed in), but instead I feel like just posting what’s up.

Today I gave Lucy a shave.  May seem like an odd thing to do, what with the cold weather and all, but she was in desperate need.  So I gave her a good shave.  She still isn’t talking to me.  And by that I mean that when I call her, she doesn’t come, since I called her when we were cutting her hair, and she resents that.  Or thinks that I still have the clippers hidden somewhere.

I also baked a pumpkin that I had, cause it needed to be cooked so it didn’t rot.  Last time I cooked a pumpkin, Lucy helped herself to some, and it turns out she LOVES pumpkin.  And I found out that pumpkin is good for dogs.  So this time around I gave her some.  She wants more.  But man was she begging while I was working on it.  Those little puppy eyes.  Oh-so-cute!

So now I am cleaning up the kitchen and prepping dinner (fish).  And rocking out to music.  Everything’s better when done to music.

And my mocha’s cold now.  Oh well.  Still tastes good.

Off to dance and cook,
Allison

Today–More Canning

I love that my last post was titled “No, I Didn’t Die.”  And then I disappear. For about three weeks.

So maybe I didn’t die.  But *apparently* I was abducted.

By whom or what I HAVE NO CLUE.

*lol*

So today I canned plum jam, made a crisp, marinated a roast for dinner, made a pumpkin spice latte knock-off, and…

And…

I don’t know. 🙂

Did you know that peeling plums will turn your fingers brown?  At least it turned my fingers brown.

And I spent something like two and a half hours peeling little plums that were being so stubborn.  They didn’t want let go of their skins.  And I blanched the things!

So, here’s where it all starts.

(Listening to a song, and it just mentioned snow.  And it made me get excited.  Can’t wait till it snows!)

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Mashed plums.  That turned brown because I was going slow.  (Welcome to my life.)

So after mashing them and measuring them, I dumped them in a pan and mixed in the calcium water, pectin, and sugar (that’s minus a few steps).

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Next I filled some jars.

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And then canned them.

Hey look!  A pile of pits!

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Then I still had about a cup and a half of plum smash goo.  So I had to do something with it.

So I turned to what is becoming my favorite way to use up miscellaneous fruit: a crisp.

And I threw together a plum apple blueberry crisp.  No one’s had any yet.  So I have no idea how good it is.  Or how good the plum jam is, because no one’s had any, because I canned all of it.  Otherwise it would have been tried.

*Sidetracked!*

Back to the crisp.

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And then I had to clean the kitchen.

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Goodness.

But actually, I started cleaning the kitchen, then started dinner, played piano (not necessarily in that order), and cleaned up more.

But I also interrupted the cleaning to make a pumpkin spice latte.

Boy was it good!

(Note:  I don’t necessarily know this website.  Not vouching for everything on it, and not even everything on this page.  Just love this recipe.)

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It was SO GOOD!

I’m so excited – I’ll hopefully be posting an exciting (for me!) post tomorrow.  So check back tomorrow to see it!  Oh, and you may find a hint in this post!  (And if you already know, don’t give it away!)

Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.

 

These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)

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The frozen grass I was trying to plow through

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Frost

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I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.

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Thistle

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Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.

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This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…

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…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?

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(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!

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Throwing out the tea

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Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.

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There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…

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…or 2?

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SPARKLES!

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Christmas, and Other Things

Just need to clarify something real quick:  my last post is dated December 25th, but it sounds as if it was written on the 24th.  That’s because it was posted at 12:02 a.m. on Dec. 25th (or something like that).  It was written on the 24th.

We had a wonderful Christmas.  We don’t get up at the crack of dawn to open presents any more.  We get up, eat breakfast leisurely, some people get dressed (I am done with being in Christmas pictures in my pajamas), and then people gather to open gifts.  This lasted for a little while, and then we just…chilled.  Nothing really all that exciting.  I took a 2 1/2 hour nap or something like that.  I was working on getting over a cold (and I am still working on getting over it).

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” concert on Friday was WONDERFUL!  Mom and I made a whole afternoon of it and had so much fun.  The concert was great, and I was SO glad that I got to be there.

We arrived at Powell a bit early, so I asked Mom if I could take some self-portraits out in front of Powell.  It was snowing, and the sign was so pretty.  So we walked from where we parked, over to the front of Powell (a walk of several minutes).  I didn’t wear my jacket.  I did not want it in the self-portraits.  (Of course, right?)  When we were standing there, Mom realized that she had left her cell phone in the car.  We were already planning to take my camera back to the car, so we would grab it then.  Well, when we walked back to the car, we forgot to grab her phone.  We remembered it once we got all the way back in front of Powell.  So we turned around and marched right back to the car.  I think we made the round trip from the car to Powell Hall and back 2 1/2 times.  Just burning calories, right?

I was without my jacket throughout all of this.  Completely by choice, though.  Yes, call me silly.  I know. I know.  Snowing, and I am without a jacket.  But, hey, I didn’t want to manage it inside Powell.

It was funny once it was over.  And it was a little funny while it was happening.

Oh, and I REALLY enjoyed a Caramel Brulee Latte from Starbucks.  Thank you, Mom!  It was AWESOME!

The rest of last week was mostly spent in doing things around the house – ironing, for instance.  And healing.  This cold is holding on.

I didn’t take that many pictures on Christmas.  Or any other day, really.  So here are a the few that I took.

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We had two candles burning while we were opening presents.  As you can see, in the middle of opening presents, the outside of the candle also caught on fire.  We put it out and lit just the wick again, but in a few moments, the outside had caught fire again.  This really wouldn’t have been that much of a problem, except for the fact that it smelled quite strongly.

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Self-portraits  🙂

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Can you believe that this is the last day of 2012?  It seems to have gone by so fast, yet when I think back on it, it almost seems as if enough happened to fill two years.  But last Christmas seems not all that long ago.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Are you doing anything for New Year’s Day?  We aren’t.  We have never done a whole lot.  🙂

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I should be blogging about our recent lovely trip to Branson.  We had a great time – seeing several shows and just hanging out (and we bought POP-TARTS!  I LOVE Pop-Tarts!).

But.

(Isn’t it interesting what a big difference that one little word makes?)

I cooked a lot of food this afternoon.  French Onion Soup.  Chicken Marsala. And Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

I have recently gotten several Paleo cookbooks from the library and have had fun perusing them.  When I saw a recipe for Avocado Mocha Frosting in The Food Lovers Make It Paleo, I decided I needed to make it (as well as something the put the frosting on).

So I made the frosting, as well as their chocolate cupcakes.  I am SO HAPPY with how they turned out.  Mom thought they were a bit dense, and Drake wasn’t a big fan of the frosting, but I liked them.  I will probably make a different frosting next time, as the coffee flavor isn’t that strong.  It also tastes like the avocado pudding, so to me it tastes like pudding.  I’ll try a butter-based frosting next time (I think).  Or something slightly different.

But I love them.  And I would recommend the recipe.

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A Lesson Learned

Last night Mom and Dad went out.  Usually when they go out, my siblings and I have a “party.”  Often, this includes loud music, dinner, dessert, possibly a movie, and general fun and silliness.

While Meiling and I were listening to music in the kitchen, I decided that it would be fun to make something quick for a dessert.  I pulled up this recipe for Chocolate Coffee Mousse, and we made a double batch of it.  All my siblings like chocolate and coffee, so I was pretty sure that it would be a hit.

Well, it was supposed to be refrigerated until it was firm, but we couldn’t wait that long.  Once it had hit the 2-1/2 hour mark (this was at 9:25), we dug in.

And they were good.  Very good.  Meiling gobbled hers up, exclaiming how delicious it was.  Noah really liked it, too.  Drake said that it was a make-again.

My parents arrived home not long after that.  As Meiling was energetically climbing on my dad, he looked at me and asked,

“Was that coffee caffeinated?”

“Yes, it was.”

I hadn’t really considered the fact that we would be eating this treat rather late, and that eating 1/2 tablespoon of caffeinated coffee grounds per person probably wasn’t the greatest idea.

Yes.  A scant 1/2 tablespoon of coffee grounds per person.  My 6-year-old sister included.

Drake and I had a rather exciting game with our Star Wars trading cards.  More exciting than it has been in a while.  I think we were both being affected by the coffee.  (This could partially be due to the fact that I won.  This is probably my 3rd or 4th time to win, out of the last 30 times I’ve played with Drake.  Obviously I am not the best at strategy games.)

Thankfully no one had a hard time sleeping, or at least not that I’ve heard yet.  I was up a bit later that I wanted to be, but it wasn’t terrible.

Note to self: keep it to decaf coffee when it is getting late on a weekday night. Especially for the 6-year-old.

Chocolate Truffles

I used most of the leftover can of coconut milk to make chocolate truffles yesterday.  The little bit of the coconut milk that I didn’t use for the truffles was used for my coffee non-break in the middle of making the truffles.  Mmmm…

Anyway, the truffles turned out pretty well.  I dipped mine in chocolate, just because I am that kind of person.  🙂  Half of the filling I flavored with mint extract, so some of the truffles are mint chocolate.

I was fairly happy with how they turned out.

(Quick break while I go to get one.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

So I am fairly happy with how they turned out.  The plain chocolate ones have a bit of a “healthy” taste to them (due to the use of coconut oil and honey).  I don’t care for the mint extract that I used for the mint ones.  I think it taste rather toothpaste-y.  I know toothpaste is minty.  But this mint extract seemed to have a more toothpaste-y flavor.

This time I tempered the melted chocolate before I covered the truffles.  I was hoping that it would make the chocolate less melt-y when they were eaten.  It wasn’t that difficult.  In order to temper the chocolate, after melting it, you cool it down to 83*, then heat it back up to 88*-89* (chocolate melts at 110-120*).  The hardest part was getting it to cool down.  It did NOT want to cool down.  I finally just called it good.

I am not sure that it worked, since I am storing the truffles in the freezer, and we have been eating them frozen.  This doesn’t give the chocolate much chance to melt.  I am letting this truffle that is sitting to my left thaw, so I can see if it works.

I made a royal mess making them.  You’ll see that in the pictures in just a moment, though.

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Mmmm…coffee…it smells so good…

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…and looks so good in the jar…

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Tempering the chocolate

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Still have a way to go

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The chocolate truffles are done (and I tried one – see the empty spot?)

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Now the mint ones are done (and tried one – see second empty spot)

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See?  I made a LOVELY mess!

Reformation Day Faire 2012

Last weekend was the Reformation Day Faire in Peoria, IL.  This was our second year, and it was very nice.  I especially enjoyed the dance that was on Saturday evening.

This year we rented a motor home, and stayed in that.  It was quite interesting.  Definitely very squishy.  It made for more comfortable traveling, I would have to say.  We also brought Lucy with.  Apparently she got out once while we were at the conference and ran around the church were it was held.  Mom had to chase her around and catch her.  I missed all this, and appeared right after she was caught.  Lucy really liked the motor home.  She was looking for it after we got home.

To give a brief synopsis:

Thursday Dad picked up the motor home and we packed it (this is also the day that I did these self portraits).

Friday we drove up to the Faire.  On the way, Dad surprised us with a copy of “The Avengers.”  I was so excited I started screaming.  😀  We watched that on the way up.  We made it there on Friday in time to hear one speaker.  The concert by the Wintons was that evening.

Saturday there were some talks in the morning, followed by the town square.  The boffer war was at 4:30, and dinner was at 5:30.  The dance was started at 7:30.

We stayed for church on Sunday morning, and left shortly after the fellowship meal.

And that’s that.

Here are some of the photos I took.  I didn’t take all that many during the conference, but I did take a bunch on the way home.  Why shooting through a dirty windshield while flying down a highway at 60 mph is fun I’m not quite sure, but it is.  🙂

Oh, and we also got to see the Wintons perform again!  I have the photos to prove it.  😛 I think this makes a total of 4 concerts in 8 days – 1 two Fridays ago, another the following Saturday, and then one this past Friday, and another this past Saturday.  I think we can definitely be called groupies.  🙂

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Getting packed on Thursday evening – Meiling being funny

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Friday – Lucy being her normal absolutely adorable self!

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My silly brother.  Just got to love him.

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Content passengers

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Relaxin’, and my view, in a way

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I worked on this post on the way up

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Lovely view

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[Does this need a caption?]

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Meiling playing and looking out the window

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*Smile*

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Hey, look!  It’s the Wintons!

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Meiling enjoying the concert

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Saturday – walking to the park

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An impromptu portrait session with two friends, Lily (pictured) and Josh (a fellow photographer) – see my Josh’s much better photographs here (and check out some of his other photos – he has some absolutely amazing ones of the Faire!).

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My friend Bethany  😀

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Sunday – on the way home, taking only too many pictures.  🙂

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Lu, sitting on my lap

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Self-portrait – these were so fun!

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Now doesn’t this look like I was standing all calm and serene on the edge of this pasture, instead of flying down the highway?

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“So away we go, down that forever road.”

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The cards I was using to play Solitaire before I hopped up front with Dad

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“Life is a highway…

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…I want to drive it all night long.”

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Bridges

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Crossing the river

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“…makes me want to take a back road.”

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Hi again!

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Lucy’s here!

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I love roads.  Oh, you could tell?  I wonder how you figured that out!

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I love the greens in this one

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This little blue car was so cute!

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I couldn’t believe it, but at the gas station we stopped at, they actually had A DARK CHOCOLATE MOCHA!!!!  I haven’t seen one of these since we went to Branson, and I have looked at several gas stations.  I am so glad I finally found one.  😛

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Meiling using her drink for a microphone

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Bein’ silly

Of Family, Fun, and (Slightly Less) Exhaustion

Sorry it has taken me this long to get a post about the rest of our trip up!  We’ve been busy.  Really busy.   Doing a bunch of things that will become later posts.  Really.

Anyways.

On Monday we said (a rather sad) goodbye to the L. family, and headed to the airport to get Dad (he went to a different conference over the weekend).  But first, we stopped at a Polish deli.

Actually, we stopped and got gas at a gas station first.

But that isn’t all that important.

Unless it’s in real life, and you forget to get gas, and you run out of gas, and are left on the side of the road.

Enough of that.

So we stopped at a Polish deli.  This was the deli that my grandparents would go to to pick up delicious lunch meats.  We purchased some bologna (which is nothing like the stuff you get at your regular grocery store), the garlic sausage that my dad always liked, another white sausage (made with veal), and some German ham.  That ham was delicious.  It was sliced paper thin.  Mmmm….

We also picked up some chocolates (tiramisu filled), some buns (the kind that my grandmother always had and would make me little open-faced sandwiches with butter and bologna on – sniff), and some Prince Polos. Prince Polos are a wafer and chocolate bar.  We got the extra extra large size, since they were 2 for $1.  They are probably about 9” long.

Then we were on our way to the airport to get Dad.  I took a bunch of photos of my toes on the way.  You’ll see them later.

After getting Dad, we headed to my aunt and uncle’s home.  They weren’t home when we arrived, so we unpacked and just chilled.

When my aunt got home, we all went over to the tennis courts to – you guessed it – play tennis.  I had a great time taking pictures, and even hit a few balls there at the end (I think one actually made it over the net!).

That evening we went over to my cousin’s apartment to see her and her new apartment.  We all went out to dinner to a favorite German restaurant, Schnitzel Platz.  We used to go to The Platz every time we went up north, but it has been several years since we’ve been there.  It was just as wonderful as I remember (pictures of all the food to follow).

The next day my grandparents came over to my aunt’s home, and we just visited and played games until the early afternoon.

In the afternoon we drove up to my other aunt and uncle’s home for dinner.  My cousin had just passed her boards, so we went up to celebrate!  Again, we did a lot of visiting and had a simple dinner – pizza.  After dinner we went to the park.  We almost always played at this park when we went to their home. 🙂  It was so nice to see them, but, as always, it could have been longer.

On Wednesday we went out to breakfast with my grandparents and my aunt and two of my cousins.  After breakfast, we went back to my aunt’s home to pack. Before hitting the road, we went over to my grandparents’ condo.  We chatted and played another game of Rummikub (my grandma and I love this game, and we always try to play it when we go up there.  Last time we didn’t get to play, so I was glad that we got a game in this time).

Then we headed home.

And that’s that.

Our trip, in a nutshell.

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Look!  Cute toes!

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Aren’t they just adorable?!

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I love ‘em.

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The skyline

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Chillin’

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Drake, with a mouthful of Tic-tacs

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Playing tennis

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Love this

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Look!  Cute toes!

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Tennis

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Drake

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Wow!  They are cute!

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Noah playing tennis

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My Cuteness

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Wow!  Just lovin’ them!

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Blue sky

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AHHHH!  UFO  landing!  (Just kidding.  It’s the sun.)

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At Schnitzel Platz:  The pretzel bread

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The salad – a marinated bean salad, marinated beets, a cole slaw type salad, and marinated carrots

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Root beer (NOT mine)

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The Rahm Schnitzel (Schnitzel in a cream gravy)

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They brought each of us our own, personal extra gravy boat.  Yum.

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Chocolate Lover’s Cake (actually, this is Mom’s and my cousin Sarah’s piece.  Noah and I ate ours before I got a picture.)

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See?  It’s all gone!

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Tuesday: Swinging

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Playing ladder ball

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I love panning

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Cousins in the hammock

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Bologna

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A lovely sunset

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Playing tag at the park

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David, being it (I think), strikes a contemplative pose.

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RUN!

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Isn’t he funny?

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The uncles join in

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David’s it (that’s why everybody’s running)

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Balancing act

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Wednesday – coloring while waiting for breakfast

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Look what kind of coffee creamer they had – White Chocolate Mocha!

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Cousins

Primal Coffee, Three Ways

After I made the chocolate coconut milk ice cream, I had about 2/3 c. of coconut milk left over.  Thick, creamy coconut milk.  It would be perfect for coffee.  I put it in a little jar in the fridge with that intent.

Two days ago my mom took my brothers into town for their plumbing class.  Meiling and I had to do some baking for the men’s meeting later.  That coconut milk in the fridge was also calling my name.  So I decided to make some coffee.

I pulled out our coffee pot and started the coffee.  Although we do have a coffee pot, we don’t use it that often since no one in our family drinks coffee regularly.  My parents don’t drink coffee, and we have the coffee pot for when we have company.  I decided to use it because I didn’t want to use the instant.  I made the smallest amount on the pot.

I don’t quite know what made me make a large cup of hot coffee on a hot summer day, but I did.  I put most of the coconut milk in it, as well as some coconut sugar.  It was quite yummy, and didn’t taste like coconut.  Meiling also liked it.  I shared it with her, and she also told me later that she was taking sips when I was not looking.

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My coffee

When I was cleaning up after lunch from the baking as well as the coffee (I had made a grand mess), there was still a little coconut milk and cold coffee left.  Now for something that I hadn’t tried before – iced coffee!

I stirred the coffee right into the jar that had the coconut milk in it.  Then in went some coconut sugar, and after that, ice. I didn’t quite make it sweet enough, and it didn’t help that all the sugar just settled to the bottom.  It was good in spite of that, though!

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Iced coffee

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Now I still had about a cup of coffee left.  All the extra coconut milk was gone, too.  I still had the other can, but I couldn’t justify opening it, especially since there would be a lot left over.  So tonight, after doing some thinking, I decided to make more iced coffee, since it was in the fridge.  Instead of using straight coconut milk, I took some of the coconut milk ice cream I made the other day, melted it, and poured that into the coffee.  I still had to whisk in some coconut sugar, since it wasn’t quite sweet enough.  I plopped some not-melted ice cream into it.  It was pretty yummy, too!

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Melting the ice cream

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Mmmm…

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Me and my coffee – you can’t really tell, but I am trying out Cowgirl Dirt’s Lip Tint, the color Secretariat.  I really like it!

So there you have it – Primal coffee three ways!