Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Project Joy Week 2

 The second week of our summer and Project Joy found us at the Johnson/Johnsen reunion at Keller Ferry on Lake Roosevelt, out past Wilbur, WA, and home of Bob's Big Boy Burger stop.
 My boys (and I) were thrilled to find a playground of old school toys at the picnic area, complete with the spinney thing, a digging thing...
 and the hanging thing~thankfully over sand, and not pavement, like my elementary school's was.  It was pure joy to watch my boys spend so much time on simple, metal, unsafe, but super fun play toys.
 Mark won a Norwegian-American flag pin for being the person to most recently have worn a suit.  That's my Aunt Nancy in the back, she is married to my Uncle Hal.  They along with my mom hosted this bi-annual event, that goes back generations.
 There's my mom holding Finn and his huge box of Whoppers, which he won for being a kid.  Mom, Hal and Nancy had many fun anecdotes, prizes and of course, Ole jokes.  My recipe(s) for the week were somehow unphotographed, but delicious:  Cherry pie (gluten-free, allergy friendly and so good); vegan coleslaw (with Veganaisse) and chocolate cake (The Cravings Place bag)-to celebrate my Uncle Hal's birthday which fell on the very day of the reunion.  I felt very happily old school, Suzy Homemaker baking and making for my family for our reunion. 
 I kept our name tags to scrapbook with (truth telling time: I am on Liam's second day of life in my scrapbook world, that is 2005 my friends).  And Finn is wearing one of my favorite shirts, created by Celia & Gladys Hanning of JuneBug and The Mad Hatter show.  My sister who is pregnant with my nephew (another boy!!~we are rapidly being outnumbered in my girl-centric family) asked me to keep this shirt for her little guy. 
The fun thing about a reunion isn't anything fancy or tangible, it's the sense of a deep line of people standing in your past.  I hope our generation and our children's will continue reunions.  It's time travel at its' best.
 Back on the home front, Mark finished (for now) our formerly blue bathroom.  Remember the blue wallpaper from my Week 1 Project Joy?  http://holliejoyinthemorning.blogspot.com/2012/07/project-joy-week-1-results.html.  That might give you a good idea of how much of a transformation this truly is.  I also replaced the seventies knobs and drawer pulls on the cabinets, and before we even moved in my husband and friends removed the (gag) carpet and put in vinyl tiles.  Next up, sometime, is to take off the dated molding on the cabinets (this will be a house-wide project) and replace the green faux marble laminate counter tops.  I can't even show them to you because they are so shudder inducing.
 At my favorite neighborhood sale this spring i picked up this brand new light fixture for $10 which replaced the very seventies no-light light.  The curtains I found at WalMart in the winter and they cover the view of the bars on the window (which we will remove) and the view of the fence.  When we offload the tree logs (http://funkyjunkshow.blogspot.com/2010/11/tree-fell-on-my-house-or-im-thankful.html) I will be planting something pretty to grow up to the window because this will be my scrapbook room/office bathroom.  So it must be pretty. 
 I always drive by a garage sale if it's on my way.  And that is how we scored a basketball hoop set up.  My dad drove his truck in and brought it home with my husband and it has seen hours of play.  This was a must have for a house of three boys.  Another great move on our part was re-arranging the play room and bringing up the mini-Foosball table to the garage.  Next up; setting up our ping pong table (which we picked up at our own yard sale last summer for $10). 
The other thing to mention is our boredom jar.  A friend had mentioned this last year and this year, my oldest requested that I follow through and make one.  So I found our box of craft sticks and wrote twenty or so ideas, some fun, some chores, and put them in one of my Ball jars.  Now when I hear
"I'm Bored!", the child is sent to the jar.  They then get one 'put back' and have to do what the stick says.  If they don't, then they need to figure out their own idea.  This has worked super well for my 9 year old, okay for my 6 year old and half of the time for my 3 year old, who just does it because his brothers do. 
Enough boy talk; I finally planted my beautiful hens and chicks up by our garden shed.  A little pretty respite for a busy, loud summer day. 
What has been on your summer to-do or to-don't list?  I'm learning to find time for both.  Until next week~
~Hollie Joy

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confessions of a hot mom

This past 24 hours I've noticed something about myself.  I am hot. And not in a good way.  I am hot, cranky, tired, and mad.  Too often.  These are not pretty things I am revealing.  I like looking good, inside and out.  I like being a nice mom, a happy wife, a supportive friend and family member.  But God has been gently revealing to me some cracks in my neatly photographed paved path. 
Do I like this?  Um, no.  I want to be perfect.  However, His version of perfect is not mine.  Part of my realizing I need to take a deep breath and re-evaluate led me to ask myself why I have been short-circuiting.  Heat, housework, adjusting to my husband being home (which, I know, is a great problem to have), the plain noisiness of a house packed with three boys and a dog? Yes, yes, yes. And yes. 
 Our sweet neighbor Barb delivered these to our house; they are going out of town (to New Orleans, which even in the heat I would rather be going to than staying here at this moment) and I found them on the counter in the midst of my doing-good-making-a-healthy-lunch-for-all-but-very-cranky spell yesterday.  They were my game changer, my perspective shaper.
 I started looking around for what made my happy, not what I thought I was supposed to be doing.  One whiff of fresh cut lemon and I was smiling.  I think that startled my husband.
 After my super healthy lunch for everyone, I took my long shelved magazines up to my bed and just flipped through the pages.  If I can't be at the shore curled up on my (imaginary) porch with soft, white sand two feet away from my toes and white painted floors, white couches and fragile sea glass decorations in my house, I can at least do myself the favor of taking myself there for 20 minutes.
 So, so glad my oldest begged for the expensive budget breaker cherries at the store. 
 A few cut up cherries, fresh squeezed lime, and of course ice cubes in my Coke Zero for a happy drink with my magazine viewing.
 Fresh peas, both sugar snap and snow, harvested with my oldest provided a sweet dinner star.
 Being that it is around 100 degrees this week in Spokane, we have been searching out inside activities, we're not much for heat in our little family.  So when my oldest (he's on a roll) said we should go to 7-11 on 7/11, I wholeheartedly agreed.  And as it turned out, surprise!, (or not) it's a tradition at the 85 year old convience chain to give out free Slurpee's.  It was priceless (and, well, free) to see my boys on their first trip to 7-11, having their first Slurpee's.
 Last night I caught a radio program on my station 104.9 and it featured an author who's name I didn't catch, but she was talking about anger and mom's.  I almost cried with recognition.  I laid and listened and felt grace envelope me.  And I'm going to reserve her book "She's Gonna Blow" at my new best friend, the Spokane County Library.  I need a new direction.  Oh, and that sweet bike, I found it in my sister's garage this morning.
 She called early (for me) this morning.  Props to all you working folks who get up and daily go to work.  Amazing.  I get up and go to work, but, as it is 12 stairs down, I can't complain.  So, she had unwittingly locked herself out of her house and her neighbors don't have a key, so I drove the short and very quiet (hallelujah) drive to her house.  This amazing set of drawers is in her vintage house's detached garage too.  There was not cool old hardware in that drawer though.  I looked.
After an amazing quick walk around Audubon park, which her house faces, I cooled down in her secret garden like backyard and discovered her coffee can of inspiration.
The thing about God is how He can use our failures, our failings, our perceived falling short.  I am starting to think he may like them.  Because really, what is more beautiful: a straight paved road or an overgrown, crumbling cobblestone path?  I'll take the berry strewn path any day.
~Hollie Joy

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Project Joy: Week 1 results

 And now back to our previously scheduled program...I realize I am now three weeks, almost four (!gasp!) into my Project Joy.  I was feeling bad that I hadn't written my weeks up yet until I realized that I've just been busy living my project.  So really, it's a good thing.  That's one of the reasons I left my higher profile junking life, to relax into my family and our life.
 So, week 1 started sort of at the end of the school year, Father's Day weekend-ish.  I've been making the weeks rather loosey-goosey to accommodate our summer flow.  I was busy making sure the boys last day(s) of school were memorable and celebrated, so after some Pinterest time, I came up with this greeting on the door when they came home along with a bag of books and games for summer.
 And let's just move onto the recipes.  I found a torn out page of a Martha Stewart July magazine on my couch and it was like a sign from God.  We like, no we love, salt and sweet combos at our house and the recipe title dropped my jaw.   Potato Chip Cookies. Yes.  So for our last day of school lunch, I made these mouth-watering treats, with a little tweaking for Haden's food allergies.*
 Here is the bowl of crunched up potato chips that you dip the dough in.  Oh my.  I may or may not have had to crunch multiple bowls due to my snacking.
 And then. Mini Corn Dogs.*  I found this recipe in my afore-blogged magazine tear recipe book.  I forgot to keep the reference of which mag, so sorry!, but thank you to that magazine for the best freaking corn dogs I have ever had.  There are no words, so I will illustrate in pictures.
 And here is my awesome mommy craved last day of school lunch.  Egg salad sandwich with plenty of mayo (I found already hard boiled eggs in a bag in the fridge section, a life saver for me with Haden's food allergies), more salty potato chips and an ice cold Coke Zero. A girl's gotta party.  Oh, and I managed to eat a few of the corn dogs too.  Maybe more.
 Here is Finn modeling our 3 year old swimwer this summer.  For our park that week, I am counting our back-backyard common area pool (and party with friends), which was a huge selling point for our home, and the park with play equipment a couple of blocks down.  Our boys always beg to go, and so we went. Our field trip was to the local library to all get library cards and check out books.  Pure joy.
 Mark started teaching summer school the week right after school was out, so he started prepping the blue bathroom for painting.  This picture is from this winter when in a moment of passion I started tearing off the wallpaper because I couldn't stand it one. more. minute. 
Not to mention I had the monumental project of transitioning the boys and I to a summer schedule.  And I do mean schedule.  We have it written on the chalkboard, so if someone wonders what they could be doing, I get to point.  More on that later.
And finally, a tribute to the men in my life, who make sure I have plenty mind boggling testosterone words, games, jokes and activities in my life.  Not to mention joy.  I love them dearly.
My dad Jerry, my husband Mark (who gets extra points for wearing-and keeping- a shirt from when Haden was a toddler-, my brother-in-law Mike.
My boys: Finn, 3-1/2; Liam, 6-1/2, Haden 9-1/3.
~Hollie Joy

Potato Chip Cookies (modified)
2 sticks soy margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs/egg replacer equiv.
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 teaspoon
4 (more to taste) cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375. Beat together butter and sugars with a mixer on high speed until fluffy, 2-3 mins.  Add vanilla and eggs, and beat on medium speed until just combined.
2. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low speed until just combined.  Stir in 2 cups potato chips.
3. Roll dough into 2-inch balls, and then roll balls in remaining potato chips to coat. Place cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake until golden, 18-20 mins.  Let cool completely on baking sheet.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days. 
~These are tremendously good the day of!!

Mini Corn Dogs
package of mini hot dogs or cut up regular sized hot dogs
1 cup of pancake mix (I rely on The Cravings Place gluten free)
1 egg/egg replacer equiv.
vegetable oil

Slide each dog lengthwise onto 6 inch wooden skewer.  Combine pancake mix, egg/replacer and 1/2 cup water.  Pour oil into large saucepan to 1-1/2 in. depth; heat to 350.  Dig dogs in batter, then in oil until golden, approx. 30 seconds.

~I recommend having a paper towel lined plate to put fried corn dogs on, and tongs/utensil to fish sticks out of oil.  We will be making these for many festivities to come!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Food on the Fourth

 If we'd chosen our 4th Menu from my 1935 Children's Party book, our menu would have been as follows:
Cannon Cracker Sandwiches (cream cheese & jelly on white bread); Chicken & Lettuce Sandwiches; Celery & Radishes; Stuffed Eggs; Party Ice cream (homemade old school recipe); Fire Cracker Cakes (Birthday cupcakes w/ red frosting and a peppermint stick-hmmm....); and Red Lemonade, all in picnic boxes, which "if possible, should be in red, white and blue."
 Acutally, I wish I would have read this before the fourth, it has some fun ideas, maybe next year.  My mom however had a seriously delish spread and I picked a few ideas from Pinterest and magazines and of my own design.  The watermelon cut out stars and blueberries came from Pinterest, and with a little encouragement from Mark, I made my first watermelon bowl. 
 Using my garage sale find mini cupcake pan and mini cupcake holders I baked stars and used the bigger cupcakes for stripes. I used the Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix this time. It takes a whole small bottle of red food coloring to make red frosting by the way.  I used Pillsbury (dairy free) whipped frosting for the stripes and my frosting tool; and Betty Crocker cookie cream pouch with a mini attachment to frost the stars. 
 A sprinkle of red, white and blue and I had a hit on my hands!
 This is my mom's brilliant dessert: cut up white cake, blueberry pie filing, cut strawberries and freshly whipped cream in a jar.
 Some of us may have eaten the boys extras.  That would be me.
 Speaking of eating, this is the amazing mini formica vintage table my mom had for the boys table, and she found the super cute red children's folding chairs at The Farm Chicks this year.
 Another dessert perfect for the fourth; strawberry shortcake~served in my Martha Stewart vintage inspired hobnail dessert glasses.
 Since I was making it for the boys, it had to be gluten (wheat) free, as well as dairy and egg free. (My oldest son has a laundry list of severe food allergies).  I went back to The Food Allergy News Cookbook that I've had since he was a baby and used the shortcake recipe. 
 This cookbook has been my security blanket and was the only way I was able to make desserts and meals and snacks for Haden for years, until new brands and mixes began appearing on the shelves.  I have also decided it's time to expand my skills and invest in a new gluten-free baking cookbook this summer.
 In the meantime, it was fun to use my vintage biscuit cutters and my indispensable roller tool I found at Williams Sonoma.  My mom recommended it and I have had much better experiences rolling out gluten free doughs ever since.  The smaller size allows me to exert the pressure needed to manipulate the much less elastic (gluten-less) dough around.
 Ahh, sweet.  I didn't have my soy-whip on hand since previously Haden said he didn't like it.  But the night I made it he said that he wanted to have the whip back in his life.
 I still got a thumbs up from him.
 For the fourth I had apparently said I would make a blueberry pie.  So, using my favorite Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust mix, I did just that.  I sub. in Ener-g brand Egg Replacer, and patched much of the bottom crust dough by hand.  Using the scalloped pastry dough cutter cleverly stored on the back of my roller tool, I cut stripes and used my vintage star cutter to complete my blueberry vision.  For the yummy filling I used 6 cups of defrosted blueberries, a cup (and a half) of sugar and Tapioca.  This amazing pie received rave reviews from wheat eaters as well as my sweet boy.
 Our fourth wouldn't be complete without smore's~the boys got Ener-g brand cinnamon-sugar crackers, dairy free Enjoy Life chocolate and a choice of flat, star and huge size marshmallows alike.
 Yea for the fourth of July!!
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of yumminess.
~Hollie Joy