Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Patrick and the Manger. An Accidental Christmas Tradition

The ladies over at I heart faces challenged their readers this week to blog about a holiday tradition.

I gave this a little thought and one thing I've been wanting to share rose to the top almost immediately.

When Rich and I were first engaged my parents had an engagement dinner for us and their gift to us was a Fontanini Nativity starter set and my uncle made us a stable to go with it.

Over the years we came to love it even more.

We loved that it was not breakable.

We loved that in time, you could continue to add on to it and potentially have an entire town of Bethlehem.

We loved that with each new piece came a card that told the story of the character.

No matter how crazy life gets our nativity set comes out first.

We added gifts from family members..... angels.

A well.

A bakery.

When the boys were very small they would frequently ask how many days til Christmas.  We had an Advent calendar with pocket for stickers for everyday but they didn't quite make the connection. 

I told them that they would know it was Christmas when Baby Jesus was in the manger and we would all sing Happy Birthday to Him.

And so it became a tradition that Baby Jesus didn't make his appearance until Christmas Morning.

About four years ago as we were setting up Bethlehem we noticed that Baby Jesus was missing.

I was sure he would show up.

But alas,  apparently we had hidden him a little too well.

The following year I had the best of intentions to hunt one down on ebay.

Since our set is almost vintage now it needed to be the right Baby Jesus and I had no idea how competitive ebay gets for said particular Baby Jesus.

Obviously we were not alone in our misplacement.

So once again we had no Baby Jesus.

It just wasn't right.

But on Christmas morning I saw Dylan lurking around the nativity and glancing in every now and then.

Finally I looked and saw this.

The kid cracks me up.

It's why he was sent to our family.

To lighten things up.

He was very happy about how well Patrick fit in the manger...but wasn't quite sure if he had pushed the boundaries of proprietry (hmm is that a word?)

It was something so Dylan that I just had to laugh.

The following year I was victorious in my rabid bidding on ebay and landed just the right Baby Jesus.

And all was right again in Bethlehem.

But now Patrick has become a resident piece of our nativity scene.

He gets packed away with all the rest of it and we laugh every time we pull him out.

This year this is his spot.

Dylan suggested that Patrick can be the North Starfish.

Merry Christmas to all!

Love ya

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oregon Coastal Fall... A Retrospective

Did you hear that?

That huge whooshing sound?

The sound of fall speeding past?

Blowing your hair across your face so that you can't even see winter coming?

Ya, that's what that was.

In fact these pictures are almost irrelevant.

They were taken at least a month ago.

But allow me to bask in the memories.

It's one more way I can avoid facing the truth about how I should be trying to get this holiday season under control.

Join me in my denial for a moment here.

Friends do that for each other.


Let's travel back to a warmer time...

A drier time...

A time when this whale was one of the locals, hanging out in the port surf zone for a month or so...

A time when the network of local surfers walk around with smiles on their faces...

And their cell phones close by wating for the call...

My hubby really looks forward to the surf this time of year...

A time when the first storms start to roll in and the entire coastal vista looks like it's just been converted to black and white...

A time when there are still leaves on the blueberry bushes and the colors are fab...

Ummm and apparently a time when the grass needs mowing...

Thanks for that brief diversion...

And anytime I can help you avoid reality I'd love to return the favor... just let me know.

I think it might be my calling.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Thrill of Victory

I've been a blog slacker.

And I apologize.

It's not that I haven't been taking any photos.

I have.

Hopefully I'll get you all caught up soon.

But for now...

I've been feeling a bit like this guy I found floating around at our port.

Just trying to keep my eyeballs above water and motor ahead.

The Brookings Harbor High School boys' soccer team had an exciting week.

They won their 2nd round 4a playoff game 1-0.

When I texted my brother, Dave, with news of their victory and told him I'd taken over 800 shots at the game. He requested that he get to see at least one of them.

Hey someone has to get me motivated.

So Dave.... here ya go.

Opening intros and national anthem.

This series shows one of Dylan's favorite "tricks".

Turn on the turbo boosters and overtake the defender...

Get the defender up to top speed while you keep control of the ball...

Stop the ball dead...

Watch the defender keep going...

Take your time and find a pass.

He says it works everytime.... so far anyhow.

The fans were great.

They showed up and cheered on the Bruins in Bruin style.

A local photog got the guys together after the game for a group shot.

He wanted a "game face" shot.

But Dylan could not stop smiling.

Finally he called out "Dylan, stop smiling!" And for a second, he did.

But only for a second.

His first captains' interview with the local press

More smilin....

That smile just kind of went on the rest of the night...

The journey continues tomorrow afternoon.

Another big battle on tap for the Bruin boys.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cookies for College Kids

One of the really great things about being part of a large extended family is that there are lots of fabulous emerging young adults to be proud of....and tons of cute little guys and girls too but that's a story for another day.

The current crop of familial college students is a pretty amazing bunch and every now and then I like to let them know I'm thinkin about them...and that good things come to those who check their mail boxes.

So these are going out to Iowa State University, Marian College of Indianapolis, University Of Dallas, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Universal Technical Institute of Sacramento.

We love of you guys! Study hard and make your Mama's proud.

Aunt Cathy/Mom

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homecoming 2009 and Life In A Small Town

Last week was homecoming week for the local high school.

It's always a busy week with all the silliness that comes along with homecoming week.

On Friday the kids finished up the week with a pep assembly and then a noise parade.

Each class rides down Hwy 101 on the back of a big truck and decorates a "float" for the parade.

Every now and then I still giggle inside from these small town experiences.

I mean I've been here for sixteen years and it still cracks me up.

You remember that song ....Everybody Dies Famous In a Small Town?

Well I walked a block over to Hwy 101 about the time the noise parade was supposed to be starting and positioned myself so that I could attempt to get some unobstructed photos. Hoping that with any luck I'd end up on the same side as Dylan.

This is not a large this is not a large parade.

Things happen pretty fast.

There I am in position.

Here comes the Junior class truck.

All of a sudden all the kids start yelling "Dylan's Mom!" and going nutso.

Sorry for the photo quality obviously I didn't check my shutter speed very well...but you get the idea.

If I were to die this this small town.... I'd be famous for being "Dylan's Mom".

That's fine by me.

Saturday night was the big dance.

Dylan's date, Heidi, had a few friends over for a really nice dinner prepared by her mom and her brother... and of course the requisite photo ops.

Just before the kids were ready to eat the sky got really pretty outside so everyone went out for the photo shoot.

Heidi's mom also made her dress for the dance... a woman of many talents I tell ya.

The whole group.

Check out that sky

Gotta love Brendan's purple Van's ordered specifically to match.

It's always fun to see the kids all dressed up.

But the stuff I usually like the best are the candid shots.

The real stuff.

The fun stuff.

And the downright goofy stuff.

Ok now in the midst of all this silliness...take a look at the background.

As I was driving up to Heidi's house for this stuff I had a sense of de ja vous.

The next day it came to me.

In May of 1993 we came to Brookings for the first time for Rich's job interview and to look around at relocation possibilities.

We took a bunch of photos of places on that trip to help us remember what things looked like so we could dicuss them later.

The first piece of land that we really loved was this.

It turned out to be too much acreage for our budget but it was still a place we talked about for a long time and would probably have bought at the time if it were possible.

Now scan back up to the last picture on the deck...I'll wait.

Ummm hmmm same place.

How weird is that?

Life in a small town.

Dylan didn't remember looking at that piece of property.

Probably cause he was a little short on that trip.

And he was really more about eating rocks...and dirt...and grass on this stopover in Novato on our way up.

Check out those awesome Birki's I have on.

Admit it.

You had a pair too.

Those were the only thing that made carrying a ten and a half pound baby a doable thing for my feet.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Fuel 'Em Up Apple Bread

Before we get down to brass tacks I have to show you this

This is the Reading 78 Apple Peeler from Lehman's that I adore.

I ordered it about this time last year.

It was a splurge for sure.

But I figured we'd have apples forever and it would be an investment.

An investment in apple pie.

An investment in apple bread.

An investment in applesauce ... and apple whatevers of all kinds.

It took 3 months for me to get it because they were backordered.

They are made by hand in the USA.

Gotta love that.

And it's so easy to use.

I ♥ it.


Enough of the apple peeler love fest.

On to the apple bread.

I based this on a basic apple bread recipe that I had gotten.

I beefed up the nutrition levels by tweeking it some.

I wanted to share this version that we like.

This recipe is not Weight Watchers approved.

I came up with this version because we have teenage athletes in the house.

....actually only one now....*sniff*

The thing about teenage athletes is that it can be tricky to keep them fueled up so I try to pack in the good stuff when I get a chance.

This recipe make two loaves of apple bread.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and preheat you oven to 325.

Start by combining 1/2 cup of bran flakes and a 1/2 cup of milk. Set aside to absorb.
We use rice milk and it works fine.

In a bowl, slightly beat three eggs.

Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I like to use this Demerara sugar... it's a little less refined.

Also add 1/2 cup of date's a not so sweet sweetener.

And add vanilla and oil to the mix. I like these particular products. Feel free to use what you like.

Coconut oil needs to be heated slightly to liquify. I love it for baking.

Also add the bran muxture at this point and set aside the liquid mixture.

Combine whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour, baking soda, cinnamon and the optional unsweetened shredded coconut if you like that the way we do.

Stir to combine.

Stir the flour mixture into the liquid ingredients just until evenly mixed.

The mixture will become very thick. This is normal.

Add four cups of pared, chopped apples and one cup of chopped walnuts.

It's still really thick.

Divide between the two loaf pans and prepare the topping mixture.

Two tablespoons of brown sugar (I like Organic Dark Brown) and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Bake at 325 for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check to make sure the tester comes out clean and bake longer if neccesary.

Let the bread cool on racks for ten minutes.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pans and remove the bread to cool.

My guys like it best with cream cheese or neufchatel. I've had it with vanilla yogurt pored over too. You really can't go wrong.

Here's the recipe all in ine place for ya:

Fuel ‘Em Up Apple Bread

½ cup bran flakes
½ cup milk (I used rice milk)

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups sugar (I use Florida Crystals or Demerara which are a little less refined)
½ cup date sugar
1 cup oil (I prefer coconut oil but you can choose your fav)
1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
optional- ¼ unsweetened shredded coconut

4 cups pared, chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour two 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans (or you can use those mini loaf pans)

2. Combine bran and milk in a small bowl and set aside to absorb.

3. Stir together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in medium sized bowl until well mixed. Add bran mixture and stir.

4. Combine the flour, soda and cinnamon in a bowl, and then then stir into liquid ingredients until just evenly mixed. Stir in the apples and walnuts. The mixture will be thick and gloppy.

Divide between the loaf pans.

5. Prepare the topping: combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small cup, and sprinkle over the loaves.

6. Bake in preheated slow oven at 325 for 1 hour and 10 minutes, approximately. Check it with a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Make sure it's done. Sometimes they take longer than the time specified.

Let the breads cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the pans. Remove the breads from the pans to wire racks to cool.

The breads are better the second day. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or foil and store at room temperature or in the frig.