Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

I've been under the weather this past week with a bad cold.  Between being a little sick and getting ready for Christmas, I've hardly had a spare minute to sit down a the computer.  Christmas Eve was spent hanging out at home and then going to our Christmas Eve service at church.  We were up early on Christmas morning watching the kids open their stockings and then stretching out present opening for as long as possible after that.  We spent the afternoon and evening with my parents, Grandpa and Grandma, and my Aunt Barb, having a lovely meal and enjoying each others' company.  Today is the second day of Christmas, according to the church calendar, and the girls opened a present from their Aunt and Uncle in Utah.  The thing that touched me the most the last couple of days while watching the girls receive presents is that they were very thankful for all that which they received; additionally, they were just as excited to see their sisters open presents they had picked out for each other as they were opening the presents they had received.   Below is a little video of 4 of our 5 girls singing for us last night. 

video

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Feeling Christmasy

There aren't that many weeks out of the year when the girls have a good opportunity to wear their Christmas dresses, so I try and break them out for a few occasions when I can.  Thankfully, since the dresses aren't heavily used, they are in great shape to be handed down to the next sister the following Christmas.  This year, Little D was given a lovely new dress by her godmother, Marsha, and in her own words, "It is beautiful!".







Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hanging Christmas Cards

I'm always propping up Christmas cards around the house at this time of  year trying to display them in some fashion, but this year I was looking for a new way to do this.  I think I saw a picture of this idea somewhere else, but I can't remember where exactly.  So, I just did my own take on it. 



I traced the letters on pieces of white paper and had each of the three oldest girls decorate one of the letters the way that they wanted to.  Then, I hot glued the pre-measured ribbon onto the bottom back of each letter.  When the glue was dry, I used masking tape to stick the letters to the wall and to secure the bottom of the ribbon to the wall, as well.  I tried using double sided picture sticker mounts to tape the cards to the ribbon, but that didn't work out so well.  So, plan B of hot gluing them to the ribbon turned out to be the solution.  I think it turned out pretty well for a quick, little Christmas project. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Persimmon Pie

Once again, I was inspired by my friend's use of persimmons and decided to copy her (thanks for the great idea, Janene!).  She posted a picture of her persimmon cranberry pie.  I happened to have fresh cranberries on hand, so I made this same pie, too.

Yum!

 I just treated the persimmons like apples; I peeled them and sliced them in long, thinner slices.  Then, to be sure that the persimmons were soft enough since they were semi-firm to the touch, I put my sugar, persimmons, cranberries, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a saucepan and gently simmered them until the persimmons were just soft.  After I took it off the heat, I mixed in 1/3 cup of flour and poured the filling into the pie crust.  I baked the pie at 400 degrees F for about 50 minutes, until the filling was just bubbling and the crust was golden brown.  The whole family was thrilled with the results! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blogger Dilemma Update

I didn't seem to be making much progress on my picture storage issue on Picassaweb, but I did delete a few old pictures from a previous blog that I shut down and some unnecessary extra profile pics of myself.  I found some tips from others about exporting photos from Picassaweb and resizing them, but never really figured out how to make it work for me, at least not yet.  Then, I looked down at my Picassaweb account just not and it says I'm only using 19% or my available storage.  I have no idea how that happened as it said I was using 99.8% of it a few days ago, but as long as this lets me post pictures to my blog, I'm not complaining.  And, I'll be resizing them before posting so that hopefully I won't have this problem reoccur to soon in the near future. 

Plentiful Persimmons

In my area here in So.Cal., persimmons abound this time of year.  I tried them a couple of years ago and I wasn't a huge fan.  They are very sweet, but don't have a particularly distinctive flavor to me, so I figured they weren't really worth my time.  That was until a good friend came over to my house with her canning supplies to make persimmon preserves from the persimmons in her own yard.  This gave me a chance to re-evaluate the uses of persimmons and I've since realizes that they are very versatile.  Because they aren't that distinctive in taste, they remind me of tofu in their quality of being able to be a blank slate that you write your own flavors on and then enjoy.  Since, our preserve canning session, I have been using persimmons in many different ways and seeing them with new eyes.  To combat one of my biggest persimmon dilemmas, which is that they go from just ripe to overly ripe at lightning speed, I included the mushy persimmons in a fruit leather/homemade fruit roll-up recipe that I found online.  They are absolutely perfect for the job because they are nice and sweet and ready to blend when they are that ripe. 
Here is the link to the page where I found this recipe.  Scroll down to the recipe for Strawberry Fruit Leather and click the link there for the full recipe.  http://goop.com/journal/make/196/small-bites

This fruit leather recipe is really very easy.  It looks like a smoothie when blended. My two tips are: (1) try and spread the mixture as evenly as possible on the parchment paper, and (2) check it regularly so as not to over-bake them.  My first try was so crispy that they turned out as fruit chips instead of fruit leathers.  This is such a great way to use fruit that is just a little bit too ripe to be easily be eaten by your kids.  My last batch included pears, persimmons, a guava, and mixed berries.  I like to put in at least a 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries in each batch because the girls like the taste it gives the fruit leathers. 

The fruit leather just stays on the parchment paper, you roll it up, and then either tie it or tape it in a roll.


The fruit leather after it comes out of the oven.

 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Friends

I was just looking at one of Martha Stewart's blogs and ran across this quote.  It struck me as so true!  You can meet someone for the very first time or be talking to an acquaintance that you have known for quite some time, but when this happens, a friendship can be born.  It is the camaraderie of finding something in common.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blogger Dilemmas and Such

I'm feeling a bit stalled on my blogging right now and let me tell you why; then, maybe somebody will have some feedback or ideas for this problem of mine.

I have come up against the photo storage limit that Blogger has set (1GB); the photos are actually stored at Picasaweb which is part of Google, too.  I don't really know if the photo storage limit has always been in effect or is something newer that Google has done, but it is might annoying.  I think posting pictures with blog posts make things so much more interesting, but right now I might be able to post one more picture, and then I'm done for.  Here are the solutions I've thought of thus far.
1.  Erasing the oldest year of my blog posts, or just taking the pictures off the oldest year of my blog posts to free up some more space.  Of course, that will only last so long.  Also, I don't really like the idea of altering my blog because it is my personal online journal and I don't want to mess with the memories I've put there.
2.  I could just keep blogging on a different web address at Blogger, but then my "mamaoffivegirls" part of my blog address changes, too.  Is there any way that I can get my present blog to just automatically redirect a viewer to a different page? 
3.  I could just get a domain name and have an internet address that is mine.  I guess I'll check in with the hubby on how that works.  I just don't want to run into the same photo storage problems as before if it is a web hosting sight (I really don't even know what I'm talking about here; fortunately, I know people that do). 

So, I will try and fiddle some more with my pics so that I can keep posting for awhile longer, but I think I need a better solution long-term.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rockin' Her Own Look




In a family of five girls, we have a child that is truly in the middle - she's #3.  Arianna has always been a ball of energy from the time she was an infant and has a bubbly, vivacious personality.  She is very bright and excels in school, but it is her thinking outside of the box that always surprises me.  She is artistic, rhythmic, inquisitive, can memorize almost anything upon hearing it, and replies with the right answer even when we think she isn't listening to us.  Arianna also has very definite opinions about what she likes and doesn't like.  She loves the color pink and yet she is also a very athletic go-getter.  There are times when I get frustrated with her because she pretty much does everything a little differently than the "norm", but in the end this is one of the traits I love most about her.  I'm going to stand back and watch my 1st grader as she keeps becoming the very interesting, sweet, and wonderful girl that she is and anticipate many fun surprises from her in the future!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bye, Bye Chickies


I always have thought that if something happened to my hens, roosters, or chicks that it wouldn't feel like any big tragedy, but when this theory was tested, it seems I'm a bit more attached to my farm animals than I think.  Earlier this year, in last summer, I had a broody hen that sat a pile of eggs and from 7 eggs, 4 hatched.  One of the chicks dies right away because I didn't take it out of the coop soon enough, but 3 others survived and grew to be big, beautiful, juvenile chicks.  We had them in a small enclosure by our driveway, just outside our fenced yard and the top of the enclosure was covered with bird netting.  We realized that this was not very secure, but for all this time, no animals ever tried to breech it.  Even while we were gone for several days over Thanksgiving break, the chicks were fine.  And then, this morning when I went out to the van for something early in the morning, all that I found was a place where the bird netting had been torn away, piles of feathers, and paw prints in the dirt.  Upon closer inspection, I found more feathers and blood on our fence going to the neighbor's property.  This was enough to send me into tears over the little chicks I had raised from day one under a heat lamp in a box in the garage until they were 2 month old chicks that actually looked liked miniature hens.  I, of course, value human life above all, but I was surprised at how strongly I felt about the life being stolen from my little birds in such a sneaky and unexpected way.  Even the Bible says that God watches over the sparrows so if all of God's creatures are important to Him, then I shouldn't feel badly about my natural reaction to the giving and taking of life, even that of a little bird. 

So, in this most recent episode of Woman vs. Nature, nature has definitely won.  I have to admit that it is a little discouraging battling the wildlife in each and every little endeavor on our property, but I'm thankful that I don't live in a time or place where my actual life depends on it. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Growing Toddler

My "baby" is already 2 1/2.  She's growing and changing every day and it's fun watching the little person that she is becoming.  She's developing into quite the little character as she learns to tell jokes, goof off with her sisters, and wheedle the family into getting her way.  With her bouncy brown curls and eyes the color of dark chocolate, Little D has stolen our hearts.  It is a blessing to watch each of my children as they grown into the unique individuals that God has created them to be and I'm so happy to be their mom.  As Thanksgiving approaches, my five daughters are truly something for which I am thankful. 




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beautiful San Diego Bay

Some time ago, my hubby had the opportunity to go on a bay cruise and took some really nice pictures on the San Diego Bay.









Monday, November 5, 2012

Painted Pumpkins

Carving jack o' lanterns seems like a fun idea if: (1) you have the right tools, (2) you have a chunk of time to dedicate to the carving, and (3) if your children are old enough to do some or, better, most of the carving themselves.  As we don't fit into any of these categories, I thought it would be nice to let the girls paint them instead.  Also, this preserves the pumpkin flesh inside for when I want to actually cook it up and use it (the paint is washable, so I'll have to wash it off before baking :-).

Here are the girls working on their creations.

Scotch tape make it easy.






And here are the finished creations.

On the left, Livia's pumpkin (4 years old). On the right, Dakota's toddler pumpkin (2 years old).

The older girls' pumpkins.

Arianna's candy corn pumpkin.

Selah's bat.

Isabella's modern pumpkin interpretation made using strips of masking tape removed after painting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Horsin' Around

On our recent trip to Bates Nut Farm to the pumpkin patch, my hubby got up close and personal (with his camera lens) to some draft horses that were pulling wagons for hayrides.  When the girls realized how big draft horses are in person, they decided that it would actually be very difficult to ride one considering how wide the backs of the horses are.  They are very pretty horses and my hubby took some nice pictures of them!






Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dash to the Desert

Going on camping trips during the school year can be a real challenge due to schedules, school activities (both for the kids and for Augustus as a teacher and speech & debate coach), church, etc.  Thankfully, though, we close enough to the desert to get there in just a little over an hour and Anza Borrego Desert State Park is at our disposal.  In times of economic hardship and budget crunches, with outrageous camping fees at California parks and recreational areas, the bargain price of camping for FREE (yes, you read that correctly) is great!  All we do is drive out to a pull-off on one of the roads in a designated recreational area, park the van, and set up a tent.  Another huge bonus is that it is legal to have a campfire in a protected enclosure, so we bring the basin to our fire pit which fits the bill.  We have our favorite area in the park called Blair Valley and there are several short to moderate hikes right there that are great for the family during the day.  So, last weekend, knowing that we could only go for a short trip, we dashed out to the desert on Friday afternoon and came back on Saturday around lunchtime, with enough time so that Augustus could get cleaned up to go and chaperone Homecoming.  

Four really cool highlights from our trip:  (1)The three older girls got up in the morning, with their Dad already off hiking, and decided to take a hike of their own.  They started up the big hill directly behind our tent (in my full sight the whole time) and made it half way up.  I loved seeing them go out on their own adventure, helping each other along, and developing camaraderie as sisters.  (2)As we ate breakfast, we heard the tale-tell sound of an Air Force jet coming (the military does training out over the desert).  As the jet came into sight, it was so low, if felt like you could just reach up and touch it and then a second later it had darted over the next hill and was gone.  (3)Before leaving and after packing up,  we went on a short hike to a historic Native American village sight were there are morteros, deep indentations and also more shallow indentations for both grinding grain and rolling out the dough; the Native American people came to these areas seasonally.  Once the girls got going, they kept looking all over to find evidence of more morteros and also old cooking sights in the boulders and campsites.  It was fun seeing them imagine being out there in a different era, having to fend for themselves in that terrain.  (4)And finally, the highlight for me personally was seeing the most brilliant shooting star that I have ever witnessed.  It was glowing red and yellow on it tail end, light a natural firework flying through the sky.  Both Augustus and I were aghast and in awe of this evidence of God's wondrous creation.

The night sky is amazingly beautiful out there.
Waiting for dinner in the dark.  We didn't get as quick of a start as we had hoped for, but we made it.
Enjoying being around the campfire.
Tricks with glow sticks.
Our campsite from up above.
The hubby playing with his camera as the sun rises.



Selah, up the hill, hiking with Isabella and Arianna.
Isabella and Arianna, hiking.
A steep uphill.
Our campsite.

Dakota, basking in the sun.