Archive | fall RSS feed for this section

Halloween 2014

1 Nov

Pumpkin Pie is a mad scientist and Tamale Pie is a cute witch.  

Baby Bean as a fat little piggy has to be the most perfect costume ever.

Key Lime Pie is a Cowardly Lion!

Banana Cream Pie is the ladybug.

I stayed up all night to make this Princess Anna dress for Cherry Pie.  I started seeing at 10pm when the kiddie pies all went to bed and I turned off my machine at 5 am when it was time to wake them up for school.  

Gutting Pumpkins.  

I’m not sure how I missed getting a picture of Blueberry Pie.  I swear he carved Pumpkins too.


Camping in Lost Valley

16 Nov

Lost Valley, Arkansas, is an AWESOME place to visit!

Following my handy camping checklist that I made last time, we had a lovely time and didn’t lack for any cooking/first aid tools.

The camping sites were a little close, so it was noisier and not as restful as some of our trips. The kids all helped set up the tent this time.

Our neighbor to the left had about six 11-13 year-old kids. What we heard from their direction all evening was: ” You guys come help me.” “I could use some help here.” “come ON, guys!”

Hopefully, with a little more experience, that Dad will learn to give specific job assignments/requests. Then he’ll have help.

Building blocks are provided at each campsite for your rich entertainment.

But we did have the opportunity to share our over-abundance of delicious dinner with the tent on the right, saving them from a disastrous dinner of hot dogs. **shudder**

I was tired of dutch oven recipes that featured Cream of *whatever* Soup and searched around until I found this baby. In one word, it was *mouthwatering*. We’ve made it at home since then–it’ll be a regular on the menu.

Dutch Oven Cheesy Chicken Italian-o
the recipe says that it serves 16. I think it accurately serves 8 hungry adults. I was too tired when I packed to do any math, so I made the entire recipe. My husband thought I was crazy, but it all got eaten 🙂 It was that good.


1 lb bacon (you KNOW this is gonna be good)
8 chicken breasts, cut into chunks– or do like me and just throw the frozen bag in the cooler for worry- free car travel. Even if they are still frozen when you dump them in the dutch oven, you can chop up with your spoon later in the process.
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes or 6 tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 cups Minute Rice

1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp basil
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup Mozzerella cheese
1 cup Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese

I mixed up the sauce part (tomato paste through black pepper) at home and put it in a tupperware to save some space in the cooler and preptime at the campsite

Bubba and magpie helped with chopping veg.

The recipe directions included lots of steps–cook A, take it out, cook B, put in C and A, yadda yadda. That was way too much work for a camp meal. And before you raz me about the amount of cheese, I’ll have you know that is 1/3 what the recipe actually called for. That’s right the origional was 3 cups mozzerella, 3 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup parmesan. Can you believe it? We tried it that way and this way and there is no taste sacrificed by reducing the cheese.

Here are the lazy camper instructions:

Heat a 12″ dutch oven using 30 charcoal briquettes on the bottom. Chop bacon into 1″ chunks and add to hot oven. Fry until brown. Remove bacon from oven. and hide it between 2 paper plates. Try not to eat it all.

Pour out some of the bacon fat–reserving at least 2 Tblsp. in oven. Layer in all ingredients, except the cheese: onion, chicken, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, rice, and sauce mix.

Put lid on dutch oven and transfer 15 briquettes to the top. Take family on a hike to wait for food to cook–sort of like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.

Find the Bear’s Toilet.

After 30-45 minutes, return to camp and the heavenly smells calling you. Lift the lid and stir in the cheese and the reserved bacon. Put the lid back on for five minutes to melt the cheese while everyone washes their hands.

Enjoy the most tasty meal you ever ate on a camping trip!

The next morning we set out on our hike to see the waterfalls and caves of Lost Valley.

We packed sandwiches, water bottles, and granola bars

None of the pictures I have capture the scale or beauty of the things we saw.

My favorite part of the hike happened when we stopped to eat our sandwiches

We stopped to eat our sandwiches in Cobb Cave (so named for the ancient corn cobs and other indian relics found there. We were happily eating our lunch, when suddenly we heard singing. A beautiful hillbilly love ballad, ringing through the cave–which was shaped like a natural amphitheater. I looked around and saw, clear across the cave on a heap of rock, a man, singing to his lovely lady. It was so sweet. They were far enough away that I couldn’t even really see their faces clearly, but the cave amplified the sound, so I could hear perfectly.

After teasing my DH a bit for not serenading me, we went back to our lunch. The song ended and then to the delight of the lovely lady and everyone else, our bold singer went down on one knee and asked her to marry him for all the world to hear–at least all the hikers at Lost Valley that day heard– because of that natural amphitheater effect I mentioned.

Happy Sigh.

The lovely lady was suitably ecstatic and after laughing, crying, jumping up and down and clapping her hands, she kissed her bold singer very enthusiastically several times. I went back to my sandwich in order to give them as much privacy as one can expect when one proposes in the presence of a family of 7, a large boy scout troup, and 3-4 senior citizens who got on the wrong OATS bus and ended up hiking Lost Valley instead of going to water aerobics at the YMCA.

Happy Sigh.

Camping Check List

27 Sep

The Man of the House didn’t have to go to work Friday night, so he said, “Let’s go camping!” We threw everything in the car and headed north to a state park we hadn’t tried yet.

I forgot a few things–like a can opener 😦 mmmm, no fruit cobbler for dinner– and I didn’t take many pictures because I was too busy having fun. I forgot the first aid kit, so we were lucky no one got hurt.

But all in all it was a great trip and a great way to get back in the camping mode. We do not camp in the heat of summer unless it is required for a family reunion or something. We camp all fall until it gets below freezing. Then the Man of the House has to camp by himself.

On the way home, Saturday, I made a list of the things I had forgotten and wished I had. Then I listed the things I remembered-so I don’t forget then next time. Here is my list–So I can find it, and perhaps you may find it useful as well.

List of stuff to bring when Car Camping w/Family

Cash to pay for campsite

First Aid Kit: bandages antibiotic ointment, bug spray, sunscreen, IB Profin, chapstick, eyedrops


oven mitt
can opener
pancake turner
salad tongs (for moving charcoal around on the dutch oven)
big metal spoon
duct tape
trash bags
paper towels
wet wipes
Toilet paper
paper plates
plastic forks
foam cups
aluminum foil
kettle (for heating water)
paring knife
cutting mat
dutch oven
dutch oven lid hook
table cloth
pocket knife
propane fuel for lantern
new mantles for lantern

camp stove *wishlist
frying pan *wishlist

ground tarp
sleeping bags
sleeping pads/air mattress for wimpy mom (closely related to super mom, but at the end of her magic rope)
1 or 2 extra fleece blankets
1 or 2 flat sheets
camping pillows (I plan on making these half size pillows soon)
camp chairs

warm pj’s
1 change clothing
hiking shoes
flip flops (because otherwise the kids WILL go barefoot in camp)
baby backpack
water bottles

bar of soap
hand sanitizer
2 hand towels
ponytail holders
shampoo *if camping more than one night
diapers for baby
dirty laundry bag

glow sticks 🙂 fun
camping games *we don’t need these yet, our kids are still in the run everywhere and explore it stage. When they are all teenagers we may want card games in camp. Electronics of all kinds are considered blasphemous and are banned.


We camped by a lake, but there was no way to get down to the lake from our campsite and the “beach” was closed for winter. So we might as well have camped somewhere else without a lake. I think our favorite place to camp so far has been Osage Hills State Park in Bartlesville, OK.

I really hate camping with a crawling age baby. They don’t like staying in the pack-n-play and if you put them on the ground, they eat everything gross. SO I’m glad Cutie Pie is out of that stage.