Those Days

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Yeah, you know those days. Or, those few days.

We returned from a huge trip late Sunday night (technically early Monday morning). And I’m now sitting in the doctors office for the third time…since Monday night. Little is sick, but hopefully recovering. Big just had a throat swab for strep. I’m hopeful it’s negative.

Thankfully my Beloved rocked the laundry do the mountain is now a hill. The hill’s growing, but we’ll defeat it.

We’re all tired, and we could all use some good sleep. I think that’s my plan for tonight.

Through this week I’m very grateful. Grateful we’re normally very healthy. Grateful we rarely have to see the doctor. Grateful for ERs and good medicine that works quickly. Grateful for insurance. Grateful that we homeschool and can recover on our own schedule. Most of all, I’m grateful for the Great Physician.

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My Birthday

What made my latest birthday perfect??

Everything.

Every. Single. Thing.

Most importantly, I got to spend it with my family.

Then, even strawberries were on sale for $0.98/pint…and grapes for $0.75/pound…

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We had my favorite BBQ hash for lunch…

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Bbq pork for hash...

…and I got a nap.

We also made great progress on the deck project!!

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In the evening, we went to a presentation from a holocaust survivor which was fascinating, and dinner out with friends.

The kids even made me this awesome cake…

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Perfect. It was just perfect. It made getting old worthwhile.

Pinterest — A Win!

The other day I was reading through Pinterest, and I came across the cutest idea for a gift. Now, our recent King of Random fail made me a little leary, but I decided to try it anyway.

Here is a link to the original idea. The concept is simple – a gift in a large glass jar around a theme. The theme we (Big and I) liked was the “orange” idea. The sample was an “Orange you glad it’s Christmas” jar, but we went with an “Orange you glad we’re friends” jar to cheer a friend.

This was our final product:

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Big made the adorable tag to look like an orange soda label!imageI won’t gloat too much, because another Pinterest fail will come all too soon, but this thing was ADORABLE!! I will totally make one of these again. The jar itself was under $7.50 and is totally reusable, and all the contents were under $10. It was a blast to make, and even more fun to know that we made someone’s day. I will definitely try another theme – and maybe one really soon since a friend has a busy week ahead….now the gears are turning… 🙂

New Orleans School Of Cooking Follow Up – Our Cooking “Lab”

I mentioned in a post a few days ago about how much the kids and I LOVED our trip to the New Orleans School of Cooking. One of the things we learned how to make in the class was pralines. Well, today Little decided he needed to make a go of it at home…

We broke out copious amounts of sugar, fat, and nuts and got to work.

First… we diverted from the directions and toasted our pecans until they were golden brown. I am a 1000% fan of toasting nuts for maximum yummy-ness, so we had to toast!

Then we got straight down to the sugar and fat and milk boiling… very carefully… with lots of pot handle holding and careful whisk management…

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After hitting the correct temperature, the nuts (or at least those that we hadn’t eaten) were added…

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More whisking ensued, and then we were ready to drop the pralines. I like little baby pralines that, when I eat them I am not forced to loathe myself, so we made them small.

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After about 30 seconds we ate our first one. They were better than the original. Our nuts were just perfectly toasty, and the smaller size just make them even better (because they’re guiltless). If you’re in New Orleans, take the class. Then, make the pralines. Apparently they freeze well. I’ll let you know. 😉

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King of Random… Fail

You know those “Pinterest Fail” photos you see online – with one perfect craft and then a gigantic mess?

Yeah.

So do I.

Except we usually live it here! LOL!!!

Big and Little decided they’d make the “Ninja Balls” from The King of Random…


My only brilliant idea in this whole thing was that I required this be “an outdoor craft”.

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Seriously good call, Mom!!

In the end the figured out the process, which was awesome because by the time they were done I was pretty stressed out! LOL!!!

Travel with Kids : New Orleans School of Cooking

A friend and I recently took an AMAZING trip to New Orleans with our kids. Combined we had an almost 11 year old, a 12 year old, and two 13 year olds (and a couple of middle aged moms). It was a super, fabulous blast.

Now, before any readers freak out, New Orleans is a WONDERFUL city to take kids. There is a ton to do, to see, and to experience beyond the “adult” image of NOLA. In my late 20s and early 30s, I lived in New Orleans for 5 years and LOVED it. The entire time I was (and still am) a non-drinking, non-partying, Jesus-loving Christian. Yes, you can love New Orleans and Jesus.

This trip we did a TON of fun things, but hands down, one of the favorites was attending a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking.  This was actually my third time attending a class there, with my first being in 2004! Yikes!

Since this is my third time taking classes there, I obviously love the process, but I have to say this one was the best yet. Now, before I laud on about the class – here are the basics…

It’s a demo more than a class. You don’t actually cook – the instructor does – but you can ask questions, see the process, and eat all the delicious food they cook. You’re provided with recipes so you can take notes and make any adjustments or comments you need. You will feel completely ready to cook the recipes when you get home. In the process of cooking, the instructors share about the food history of New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as telling personal stories and tales of NOLA. If you want to take an actual “cooking” class where you do the cooking – you can google them – but expect it to start at about $160+/person.

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The demo class we attended was $32.50/person and included biscuit and syrup, corn and crab bisque, shrimp creole and rice, bananas foster, and pralines, as well as drinks (tea/beer/lemonade) and recipes. It was about 3 hours long and we left STUFFED. There are other classes with other menus, so definitely pick one that you want to both eat and learn how to cook. Prices vary a little with the class content – and I think ours was the most expensive class.

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The thing I LOVED about this particular class was our instructor. He was amazingly interesting, well-spoken, and engaging. The kids all loved the class and ate (at least some) of all of the food. In one class I took (a number of years ago) the instructor threw in a number of cringe-worthy inappropriate comments, but this instructor was clean, respectful, and very kind. If you take kids with you – I highly recommend “Tom” as an instructor!!

One last thing I would recommend is that you book the class ahead of time. We did a walk-in, but it was only God’s gracious timing that made it work. It’s easy to pay online and sign up, so I would skip the stress and plan ahead for this one. I’m sure in the busy season the place is packed and sold out. Also, bring some spending money. You’ll definitely want to buy some spice blends and other cool stuff to add to your cooking routine for when you get home!

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Projects with Kids – A Must Have Tool

If you’ve ever done construction projects with kids, you know how stressful it can be. One thing that’s super frustrating – for kids and adults – is stripped screws.  With our recent deck project we found a fabulous tool to help the kids drive screws straight, without stripping the screw or eating drill bits.

For under $6 you can buy a screw guide (“compact drive guide” like THIS ONE on Amazon). The ones we bought at Lowe’s cane with 3 bits. For this project we’re using the bit from the decking screw bin.

Here’s how it works:

1. Attach the guide like a normal bit.

2. Attach your bit inside the guide.

3. Load your screw into the bit:

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4.Slide the guide down to encase the screw.

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5. Pick where you want the screw to go:

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6. Lower the guide to the wood, and screw in about 70%

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7. When you’re close to flush, lift the guide and finish drilling more slowly.

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The kids and I both have found this little tool to be a gem. We’re drilling a TON of decking screws, and we haven’t had any stripped screw heads, or star bits, or dents in the deck, or any drills flying erratically. Score. I’m so glad we found this tool and gave it a try! I highly recommend getting one when you teach your teen construction skills!