Sunday, June 30, 2013

Floatin' on By

 Happy National Ice Cream Soda Day and a productive day at the Gatchel house.  Nothing too exciting around here to report as we spent today doing all kinds of things to start to get ready for our trip to Maryland.

Kayla and I spent the morning doing some shopping.  The kiddo was in need of some summer pj's so we got her all hooked up.  You have never met such a thankful three year old in your life!  She can't wait to show off her pj's that have Barry (the minion from Despicable Me) to Aunt Shellie and Uncle Dudley on Tuesday night.  Rumor has it (though for crying out loud DON'T tell my kids!) that their favorite married Aunt and Uncle are taking them to the Drive-In to see Despicable Me 2 on Tuesday night.  We also found some great outfits for the Fourth of July for the whole crew.  Can't wait!

I finally got the end of my flowers planted (Kayla and I had gotten a flat of begonias for some planters over a week ago that I had yet to get actually planted) and I FINALLY finished weeding the driveway.  The fact that this is done before we leave makes me ridiculously giddy.  Also caught up all the laundry and started putting aside the kiddos clothes to pack tomorrow.  I'm feeling majorly on top of things at this point and think we'll be more than ready to hit the road on Tuesday afternoon!

We also of course celebrated with some ice cream floats tonight.  We walked over to the nearby grocery store to pick a flavor of soda for our floats.  Mikayla chose Candy Apple (you gotta love made in Michigan Faygo products!) and so Candy Apple Ice Cream Soda floats it was.  Who doesn't love soda and ice cream?

Speaking of ice cream, I've prepped July's calendar and I swear 70% of the celebrations are either ice cream or liquor related.   Think it's going to be an interesting month here at the Gatchel's.  Tomorrow we kick off the month with Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day as well as gingersnaps, so looking forward to that.  Until then...

Catching a ride on the Daddy train

 Which eventually ran out of steam

Candy Apple Float

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Monster's Orchestra

All week I have been looking forward to today.  Scratch that, I have been looking forward to today since about 8 months ago when Grant and I stumbled across the sneak peek for Monsters University.  We both loved the first movie and have been waiting as patiently as possible for this prequel to make it to the theater.  So much so that we knew it was a movie that we actually wanted to see in the theater with the kids.

So this morning we took advantage of a Saturday morning matinee and took the kiddos to see Monsters University.  I don't want to ruin it for anyone, so I will just say that we all absolutely loved it.  If you liked the first one, I would highly recommend this one. It's a rare thing for both kiddos to make it through an entire movie without at least starting to get the wiggles, but not only did they sit through the previews, the animated short (super cute about a blue umbrella, I so love Pixar!) and the whole movie, we watched the majority of the credits as well.  So glad we went all together :)

Even more, last weekend I had seen that the Michigan Philharmonic Orchestra was going to be giving a free concert in Plymouth (oh how I love Plymouth) at the park downtown tonight.  I knew it was something we'd all enjoy if the weather decided to co-operate.  Noah wasn't quite as taken with it as I'd hoped, but Kayla was captivated.  She really liked watching the conductor.  They did a selection of pieces from the movie "E.T." which she said was her favorite and I told both of them that maybe we'd be seeing if we could find that movie so they could see it.  We didn't make it through the whole concert as it was getting late and a bit chillier than we had hoped, but I was glad that we had gotten a little culture today, too :)

And of course, I didn't forget our celebration.  Today is National Almond Buttercrunch Day.  Never heard of it?  Don't worry, neither had I.  Basically think toffee with almonds.  As expected, it was just given an 'ok' rating around here.  Don't think I'll be rushing off to make this one again and I'm thinking the leftovers are going to work with Grant on Monday, hehehe

Spending tomorrow starting to get our ducks in a row for our big trip to Maryland, I think.  Grant said something about a festival in Livonia, so maybe that as well?  But definitely ice cream sodas!  Until then...

Waiting for Monsters University to start

 Had to memorialize how much we enjoyed the movie somehow

 Almond Buttercrunch

 Michigan Philharmonic Orchestra

Popcorn during the concert

Friday, June 28, 2013

Stopping to Smell the Scentsy

I sometimes worry that with all the 'stuff' that we try to jam into our days I miss out on those every day moments that really make life worth living.  So I decided we'd take a deep breath today, play it completely off the cuff and see where it took us.

I woke up with no 'plan' or 'must accomplish tasks and asked the kiddos what they might like to do.  It rained here really hard last night so we decided against the park or playing outside and decided to check out storytime at the main branch of the library.  We haven't been to a regular storytime for quite awhile, especially at the main branch so this was a lot of fun.  We did all the crafts afterward and stayed to play with the toys for quite some time.  I think Noah shot baskets with the basketball hoop they had set up for at least 20 minutes.

When we left, I asked them what was next and they requested a trip to the store to pick a special lunch.  So off we went.  Trooping down the aisle, Kayla says "Mama, can we pick a new smell for the scentsy?"  So we stood in the store and literally smelled every one of the wax tarts before finally settling on cherry vanilla parfait.  They got their lunches (chicken strips, mac & cheese with a brownie for Noah and a build your own pizza for Kayla) and on the way out I let them climb up on the mechanical horse and go for a ride.  Apparently this has made me the coolest mom ever - who'd have thought.  Usually I am so focused on getting OUT of the store that it wouldn't even dawn on me that it might be something they'd like.  I spent 2 cents (one on each kiddo) and made their whole day.  Apparently it really is about the little things.

Stepping out of the store, though, I had second thoughts about the decision to stop for the pony ride as during the time we'd been inside the sky had turned literally black.  We're standing there as a huge bolt of lightning streaked in front of us causing us to hightail it back to the car just as gigantic drops started to fall.  We made it back to the car only a little worse for the wear and we're so taken with the storm that we sat in the parking lot just to watch the lightning storm for awhile.

Pulling into the neighborhood it was still raining a bit.  We rounded the corner to find a huge puddle overtaken by an entire family of ducks going for a swim!  Again, I'd normally probably grumble about having to wait until the ducks moved to make it home, but the kids were so excited about watching them it was all good.  Can I remember this lesson more often?  Next time I'm feeling stressed about making it to the next place, or accomplishing the next item on my to-do list, hopefully I can remember smelling all the scentsy, riding the pony, watching the lightning or enjoying the ducks puddle antics.  I don't know about most Moms, but this is a tough one for this Mama and something I know I need to work on.  I've said before that I never pray for patience (because then God tests it to prove you have it) but maybe I should pray for the ability to actually enjoy stopping to 'smell the scentsy'...

In other news around here, it's National Tapioca Day.  I've actually never cooked with tapioca before so this was kind of fun.  I made a traditional tapioca pudding (which I didn't know could be served warm or cold, I've only ever had it cold before) that everyone enjoyed.  Then for dinner I made baked pineapple with tapioca.  The kids LOVED this.  It was kind of like a pineapple custard with a touch of cinnamon.  I'd definitely recommend it for a ham or pork side dish, though it did go really well with our sausage cornbread bake tonight :)

I'm enjoying watching Scherzer dominate (again!) with a 4-0 lead in the 4th inning right now, and I'm off here shortly to prepared the Almond Buttercrunch for tomorrow.  We're taking the kiddos to see Monsters University (finally!) in the morning and then we're going to a concert put on by the Detroit Philharmonic tomorrow night (I am so excited about this one).  So until then...

Tapioca pudding

 Noah riding 'Sandy'

 Kayla, too!

 Baked pineapple with tapioca

My latest creation - stuffed brownies.  A layer of brownie, a layer of Cookies 'n Cream candy bar and then another layer of brownie.  I'm thinking the possibilities with this one is endless - thinking my other half would devour them with crushed up reese's cups in between....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Orange you glad it's India?

Back in February, for the first time we celebrated National Indian Pudding Day.  I didn't comment on it then, but the cornmeal based pudding that made my kitchen smell absolutely divine was a huge flop.  No one actually liked it and I ended up throwing 3/4 of it in the trash.

So imagine my consternation when I discovered that today again was National Indian Pudding Day.  Further woe occurred when I found out it is to be celebrated yet again in November.  What the heck?  I was kind of hard pressed to make again (even a slight variation or different recipe) a dish that not one person at my house actually enjoyed.

Then, I thought, would if "Indian Pudding" could also be a pudding from India?  I set out to see what I could find and came up with a recipe for kheer, which is a rice pudding traditional to India.  It is much soupier, for lack of a better word, than a traditional English or American rice pudding and is flavored differently and topped with nuts, but same common idea.  Score one for Kristi's creative streak.  Score yet another one as everyone here really enjoyed this dish.

It is also National Orange Blossom Day, and I learned that an Orange Blossom is a drink of gin, orange juice and sugar.  While Grant was able to partake, I had to come up with something different for the rest of us and found a recipe for Orange Blossom muffins that everyone (especially Noah) thought were great.  I also went one step further and made an orange spiced chicken for dinner.  Just in case I didn't have all my bases covered ;-)

Regardless of today's National celebrations, it has been one FABULOUS day at the Gatchel's.  We did make it to outdoor story time this morning and I had invited some of the ladies (and their kiddos) from my MOPS group to join us.  Let's just put it this way - sunshine, stories, hula hoops, adult conversation, picnic lunch and Frosty's for a treat all make for one very happy Gatchel crew.  We made it home just in time for a bit of a snooze to try to beat the heat.  Just as Grant was getting home a massive thunderstorm tore through.  We'd been hoping to go to downtown Wixom for a concert and perhaps some fireworks but it was pretty evident that was no longer on the table.  So we took the kiddos to the mall to see the puppies and play for a bit while I popped into Bath and Body Works to take advantage of their semi-annual sale.  I was getting might low on my summer 'smells' a major no no around here.  I believe that the soap smells in your house should match the seasons at all times and washing my hands with creamy pumpkin in July just seems wrong somehow.

Not sure about tomorrow, except that it will contain tapioca in a couple of different forms.  Otherwise, I'm sure we'll come up with something!  Until then...

Mini Orange Blossom Muffin

 Super easy, super yummy - they had both orange juice and orange marmalade in them (And I say had because they are all gone already)

 My Michigan princess ready for storytime

Aunt Sarah - the next series of pictures are for you.  Be warned that your Champion Hula Hooper title is in jeopardy

 We were having such a great morning we stopped at Wendy's for some frosty's on the way home (Am I a cool Mom, or what?)

 Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)  
(Kristi's Note:  I mentioned above that this is traditionally 'soupier' than what we think of rice pudding.  This is true normally but I also made mine ahead and refrigerated it, which caused a lot of the extra milk to be soaked up.  I decided not to add any extra milk (which the recipe stated you could) and we had it this way.  Kheer can be served warm or cold, though most of what I read said it was better cold)

 Spiced orange chicken

Orange Blossom 
(Wanna try it?  2 oz gin, 1 oz orange juice, 1 tsp superfine sugar - 
shake well with ice, strain and serve)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


A slight feeling of paranoia is beginning to set in with me over the last couple of days.  I think that maybe someone over at somehow senses I'm going to be checking the weather to figure out my game plan for the next day or so, puts up a fake weather report, makes sure I check it and then goes back and replaces it with the actual forecast.  That's the only explanation that I can come up with that when at around 4pm yesterday afternoon I checked, saw the forecast for about 70% chance of thunderstorms including hail for the majority of today and decided that today would then make a great day to stay inside here and take on some Kid Kitchen craziness.  Today is National Chocolate Pudding Day and I figured we could definitely make something fun there.

So imagine my slight frustration as here at just after 8:30 I type and not a single drop of rain has fallen on us all day.  It did get a tad overcast for about 20 minutes this morning but that's it.  And while I will always take the sunshine I'm almost convinced that tomorrow, because I've 'planned' on us walking down to pavilion storytime and lunching there, it will probably be pouring rain and lightning.  Mikayla, who overheard me grumbling about the phenomenon earlier told me "Don't be mad, Mom, God just decided to turn on the sun light today instead of the rain light."  OK Bean, suppose you're right.  Not in my control.

Regardless, we did have a pretty great day around here.  We kind of went a little kitchen crazy, making homemade chocolate pudding (none of that box stuff around here!) that we then turned into 'dirt', meatloaf for dinner and a gorgeous loaf of strawberry banana bread that made my whole kitchen smell like heaven.  Have I mentioned lately that I love to have Noah and Kayla helping in the kitchen because it comes with the added bonus of them making dinner every so often, lol.  They even provided dessert!  You'll have to check out the pictures to see our amazing creations.

Like I said, we're hoping to make it to outdoor storytime as I've invited the MOPS group to join us.  It'll be good to see some of the ladies and their kiddos.

Lots to get done yet tonight, so cutting this a tad short.  My paranoia intensifies tomorrow with our celebration of "Indian Pudding" but more on that later.  Until then...

They insisted on wearing their new crowns in Kid Kitchen

 Homemade chocolate pudding


 They made the whole dish all by themselves, even saucing the top

 Mikayla mashing the bananas

 While Noah takes on the strawberries

 Mixing Away

 Making "Dirt"

 Dirt Pudding Cones

 The aftermath of eating just the leftover pudding - while they loved the pudding cones they were such a mess I couldn't bring myself to take a picture, lol

A shot of our strawberry banana bread

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Feeling Catty

When we were in the 'Mont on Sunday, I asked my Dad, the authority on all things seafood in my book, for a recommendation on how to prepare catfish for today's celebration.  His response; "Don't."

OK, not helpful, LJ.  And it struck some terror in me; were we finally going to run into a type of seafood that my kiddos wouldn't eat?

I know my MIL likes her catfish fried (what was the name of that place in Gaitlinburg we went to??) but I had pan fried the chicken last night and wasn't really wanting the redundancy or the mess.  Back to the drawing board.  We had found fresh catfish during our grocery excursion yesterday and the kiddos have been super excited to try it out, so I felt like I had some major expectations to live up to.

And you know me, I can't ever do anything the easy way.  I was torn between a couple of different preparations and settled on doing two of them.  I had gotten two decent size pieces of catfish, plenty to try out a couple of things.  So I settled on Honey Dijon Onion catfish and Herb Crusted Baked catfish and crossed my fingers.  My co-worker, Beth, had warned me that catfish can have that rather 'fishy' taste since it is a bottom feeder fish.  (And though I was too late to do it since I was literally pulling it out of the oven as she told me this, I'll share her tip - soak your catfish filets in milk for about an hour before you prepare it to help get rid of the fishy taste.  Thanks, Beth!)

Lo and behold, the catfish was a huge hit around here.  Everyone loved both styles, with Kayla and Grant favoring the dijon and Noah opting for the herbs.  All three asked for catfish again, in fact.  I think it's official -if it 'breathes' underwater my kids will love it.  Everything from scallops to lobster in any way I've made it.  Wonder where they got that...

It's also National Strawberry Parfait Day and my parfaits turned out a bit different than my original intent.  I had heavy whipping cream in my fridge that I had been planning on mixing up to layer with strawberries and oreos but when I pulled it out of the fridge I found it was solid because it had been on the top shelf of my fridge in the back.  Oops, guess it was a little too cold out there.  So I fortunately had some cool whip in the fridge that worked.  I did mix the strawberries with sugar for about an hour and then mixed the juice that produced with the crushed oreos to make almost a fudgy layer that Noah couldn't stop talking about.  (Literally, the kid couldn't stop talking at dinner tonight.  It ended up costing him a trip to the spray park unfortunately as he kept talking about how much he liked all the components of his dinner instead of actually eating it.)  I'd call today's celebrations extremely successful.

It rained this morning which kind of threw my plans for the day, but we adjusted and made the most of it.  We made it to musical storytime this morning and the kids decorated (all by themselves, to be noted.  I pulled out all the stuff, told them to have fun and walked away from it.  At least out of eyeshot, never out of earshot ;-) ) some visors that I had gotten for them at JoAnn's last night.  And of course, goldfish mac and cheese for lunch!  Yep, a pretty good day all around.

It's supposed to be terrible weather wise here tomorrow, so I've made the executive decision (the mom-cision?) that we're not going anywhere and we're going to go a little Kid Kitchen crazy with 'dirt', strawberry banana bread and meatloaf.  I also picked up a couple of other art projects at JoAnn's that we might dive into depending on how things are going.  Should be fun.  Chocolate pudding tomorrow.  Until then...

Noah's visor

 Kayla's visor crown

 She's such a diva

 Goldfish Mac & Cheese!!

 Strawberry Parfait

 Catfish 2 ways - herb on the left, dijon on the right