Friday, February 27, 2015

The original Mardi Gras

Some days you just need Orange Leaf for lunch

Nita left them a clue which we got to after school

Bonjour mes petits d├ętectives stupides, (That means Hello, my silly little Detectives, ha ha ha)
Laissez les bons temps roule!  Hmmm, sound familiar?  It should!  Just a few short weeks ago I was camped out in a city known for hosting an event where this phrase is often heard.  BUT, I have learned during my time this week that is NOT where the earliest origins of the celebration in North America actually occurred.  Nope, it was actually here in the state where I am now in 1703 – a full 15 years before its more well-known counterpart.
Turns out the big event just wrapped up last Tuesday here where I am.  I was able to pick up a few trinkets for you, though.  A clue or two if you will.
First, this huge event actually has its own flag at all the festivities that begin usually around New Year’s Eve and run until Ash Wednesday.  I could just give you the flag that I picked up, but what fun would that be?  No, you’ll have to do at least some work assembling the pieces I’m including.
Secondly, lots of different parades occur during this celebration.  And parades mean floats!  And floats mean people tossing goodies to the parade goers.  These goodies, known as trinkets, range from beads to doubloons (coins) to candy.  One specific treat is associated with the celebration in the state that I am currently in, though.  They were first thrown in 1956t by children on the Queen's float in the Comic Cowboys parade and are since a parade staple.  Again, I could just give you the treat but how boring!  You’re detectives, you’ll have to find them!  I will give you a hint, though.  To find the treat you’ll have to get clean.
Have I confused you more my techy twosome?  Or do you think you know where I’ve been holed up this week?  I’m sure you haven’t got a clue!

They went racing down the hall to find...

Moon Pies!

As they munched they worked to assemble...

The Mobile Mardi Gras falg

Noah found Mobile on the map to confirm

And they logged a guess of...


More tomorrow!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Symbolic (and Cake Filled) Day

So sometimes a girl needs to play the piano or paint.  And sometimes, she needs to bake.  After a morning full of friends the Bean and I headed back here to do just that.  Because what else was I supposed to do with the rest of the evaporated milk from making comets last night?  I mean, really, what do you do with half a can of evaporated milk, anyway?  Turns out, you make Cinnamon Roll Cake with your favorite cheflette!

You may remember that a few weeks ago I made a cinnamon roll cake for G that he called epic.  As in, one of his new favorite desserts.  Well, this was similar, but with evaporated milk.  (Like I said, had to use it somehow and after 45 minutes of recipe searching for something to make that I had all the other ingredients on hand, this was perfect)  So the Bean and I got baking!

Actually, the Bean got baking.  I read the recipe and 'helped' some

Packing down the brown sugar is her favorite part

We mixed up the topping

Swirled it in

And got it ready to throw in the oven

Then we mixed up the glaze

Which she added as soon as it came out

This is right after we got all the glaze on and Bean said "Mom, I'll be your taste tester"  I told her she could - as long as she finished her dinner :)

Noah came home from school and...
Flag was up and the mailbox was full!

Dear Detectives,

We have been working hard to gather information about some of the state symbols attributed to the state Nita is currently hiding out in.  We believe we have gathered specific information on the State bird and the State Flag we can pass along to you at this time.  We hesitate to just tell you what the flag looks like and the name of the bird in case Nita intercepts this communication and changes it!  (She is sneaky like that.)

So, we are enclosing two things.  First is a picture of the State bird and a code for you to crack to get the actual name of the bird.  Secondly, is a recipe for you to make a cookie that will look like the state flag upon completion.  You should have gotten the necessary ingredients in your mailbox to each make one cookie.  There is also further information on the flag itself with the recipe.

We hope that once completed both of these items will prove useful in your search for Nita.  Good luck, Detectives!

MOMG Intelligence

So first we set out to make some flag cookies

Reading the directions

Hmmm, what flag could this be?  We also learned: 

The official flag design” is a “crimson cross of St. Andrew’s” on a field of white.  The bars forming the cross are not less than six inches broad and extend diagonally across the flag from side to side.  The flag was adopted by the legislature in 1895

This was the second piece of information they received

The yellowhammer is the official state bird of....

After these two clues Noah is leaning very heavily toward Alabama.  He thinks he remembers that both flags had this white background and white cross BUT that the Florida one also has a picture on top of it.  (No, I did not help him with this.  No, I did not give him any hint on this.  Completely his memory.  Google it people)

So, dinner tonight.  I set out to make Quinoa Enchilada Casserole, but I'm going to just give the recipe an 'inspired by' on this.  First, the store did not have a normal size thing of quinoa to buy the other day.  So I went with tubini pasta instead.  And it was supposed to be meatless - but no meat tomorrow so I added ground beef.  Then I had a whole ordeal with enchilada sauce.  It's too long to go into here.  But let's just say the end result - not that recipe.  BUT my crew loved what I came up with :-p  I told them I'll keep that in mind, though I can't say "we'll save the recipe" on this one...

Everyone made it through dinner in about 20 minutes, I think because they wanted to cut into this...

(this is right before we cut into itt, after the glaze set

Oh my goodness...

Grant said "mmmmmmmmmmm" (think Homer Simpson)  He said he liked this one a bit better because it had more of a cinnamon roll texture.  Though he would be MORE than willing to do a side by side taste comparison.  Tomorrow if necessary.  I told him I'd take that into consideration.  I then put his feet to the coals and asked him if he liked this or the peanut butter microwave cake from the other night (it was this one if I didn't post about it, but drizzled with chocolate because I know my husband's weaknesses).  He said he couldn't decide, but if he was on a deserted island (and yes, I posed it this way) and could only eat one dessert for the rest of his life, he'd probably go with the peanut butter cake.  If you like desserts - just try them both :)

Tomorrow's Friday,woo hoo!  Saturday we're catching up with my parents at the zoo for the Botanical Garden show, really looking forward to that one.  Not sure what else we're doing tomorrow, but until then...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Outta This World Kinda Day

 Some days a girl just needs to play:

Or paint
 And express herself:

Guess it's a good thing we Gatchel girls have an awesome place to run off and do that when we need to :)  Happy Hump day, all!  My morning started a bit rocky (I hurt my ankle/shin on the treadmill the past couple days - had to take the day off today to give it a break.  Seems like a simple thing but leaves me feeling antsy.  Even if it did mean snuggling under the blankets warmed by Morgan's mattress pad for an extra hour...), but I shook it off, got Thing 1 and Thing 2 off to school (thank God!) and took a quick adventure with Amber (*hugs*) to Ann Arbor this morning.  On or way back we stopped at Tim Horton's for some coffee, and I have to tell you, the highlight of my day (week, month, perhaps) was watching Mr. A demolish a box of Timbits.  My kids, thanks to my Dad, adore Timbits, and this was A's first go with them.  He was so excited, trying a bit of one, putting it back, eating another.  I'm pretty sure with just a little help he polished off the whole box.  Seriously Amber, he is a treasure!

Made it home with enough time to transfer a load of laundry (ah, the never ending joy of it) and then go grab the Bean at school before heading over to Colleen's, where all of the above pictures took place.  Thank goodness for good friends!

Noah got home and the kiddos noticed the flag was up

Dear my favorite “out of this world” Detectives,

Since I know you’re nowhere near nabbing me, I decided to take a little side trip today to Huntsville to check out the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.  It is here where the rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon; where the power for today's space shuttle was developed; where the modules for the International Space Station were designed and built; and where America’s next great ship – the Space Launch System – is being designed.  I was one of the average 600,000 annual visitors today and had quite the time exploring.

While there I took special interest in learning about comets.  A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the sun heats up and begins to outgas, displaying a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail.  I really enjoyed myself today (and why shouldn’t I – it’s not like I need to be sneaky or undercover – you have no idea where I am!) and thought you might like to try a little experiment I did to make an edible comet!  If nothing else it should keep you busy for awhile, which means you won’t be searching for me!  Happy comet making, Detectives!



It also included the following which they discussed:


Comets have sometimes been described as dirty snowballs, snowy dirtballs or something in between. But what does that really mean? It means that these they are believed to be a cold mixture of frozen water, dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide), and other sandy/rocky materials left over from the early formation of our solar system. In this activity, we are going to develop a comet model that you can eat. 

  • One sandwich size re-closeable plastic bag
  • One Gallon size re-closeable plastic bag
  • Ice
  • Chunky cookies in black or brown (crushed), crushed candies (like toffee or peppermint), gummy bears, coconut flakes and peanuts (comet materials)
  • Whole milk
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Evaporated milk
  • Salt
STEP #1: 
Mix into the sandwich size bag 
One-third cup evaporated milk (or cream) 
Two-thirds cup whole milk 
5 level spoonfuls of sugar 
Less than ¼ tsp of vanilla                                                                                                                       Ingredients you feel should be in you "comet"
STEP #2 
Place the sandwich bag into the bottom of the gallon bag. Put in approximately 10 heaping spoonfuls of salt 
Fill the gallon bag (containing sandwich bag) at least 1/3 full of ice.
  1. Close the larger bag tightly to remove as much air as possible. Check for leaks.
  2. Gently shake and roll the bag while keeping it in constant motion for approximately 6 - 10 minutes or until half the bag has turned to water.
    [SUGGESTION: Rubber gloves, mitts, cloth towels or other thick fabric may be needed to hold the bag because it will get extremely cold. Start with bare hands to feel the temperature change].
  3. Gently feel the sandwich bag through the icy mixture. When the milk/sugar mixture in the sandwich bag has hardened into soft ice cream, open the gallon bag and remove the sandwich bag containing the ice cream. Carefully and briefly rinse the outside of the sandwich bag to get the salt/ice mixture off or the ice cream will carry the taste. Scoop the ice cream into cups.
  4. Taste your comet!
(Kristi's Note:  All the comet information we discussed and the recipe came from here today:  - NASA rocks!)

Noah was quick to note that he definitely remembered talking about the space program in Florida and Texas.  Texas wasn't on the possibility list, but Florida was.  They searched for Huntsville and Montgomery (from yesterday's clue) but couldn't find it in Florida.

But, Noah got the wise idea that perhaps it could be somewhere in between them!  So....
That top one is Alabama, which, to their amazement, had Montgomery and Huntsville.  They're not sold on it (Noah says if we get a Mardi Gras clue he's set) so we're going to wait a few more days...

We decided to make the comets after our dinner of BBQ chicken cornbread

This earned a "we'll eat it again!" raiting

After dinner the wonderful Aben's came over to join us to try to make our comets.  Because everything is better with friends:)  Everyone got a job, and honestly, we've tried making ice cream like this before and this recipe worked really really well.

Adding our 'comet' material.  They added sprinkles, nuts, mini marshmallows, coconut and crushed up knock off oreos. 

Shakin it baby!

Hardened up pretty well!

So THAT'S what a comet looks like :-p

Treat time

Oh what a day!  It's been filled with friends, laughter, music and yummy treats - it really doesn't get much better, right?  The Bean and I are planning on going to hang out with some of the MOPS ladies in the morning, lunch with Tess and the adorable Miss A and goodness only knows what else is on tap for tomorrow.  So until then...