Friday, October 9, 2015

Act 6; Scene 5: Dinner in a Pumpkin

I have been wanting to try this particular dinner idea for a long time.

And since we've been doing so many garden fresh dishes, it seemed perfect to use a pumpkin from our garden! It was the perfect size for our little dinner.

First, you have to cook the pumpkin in the oven for an hour. I brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled some salt, pepper, and garlic powder inside. 

The filling mixture was made of:

1 medium onion
2 big stalks of celery
1 red bell pepper
 3 cloves garlic
(saute all of this in olive oil for about 5 minutes or so before adding the rest)
1 can stewed or rotel tomatoes (though I did 3 fresh tomatoes from the garden)
1 8 oz can water chestnuts
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 cups (or more!) cooked, cubed chicken 
salt, pepper, and garlic powder (dashes)
(at this point let all the ingredients simmer about 5 minutes)
 then add
2 cups (I did about 3) cooked rice

Here's the pumpkin after being cooked for an hour, and the filling about to go in!

Put the pumpkin with filling and top in for about another hour, depending on pumpkin size. Just poke it with a fork to see if it's soft. But be careful not too cook it too long, or the pumpkin might collapse!

Doesn't this finished product look so lovely?! 

Scoop out some pumpkin along with the inside mixture. So yummy!
Meal of packed pumpkin, spinach salad, apple slices, and artisan bread.
The dinner in a pumpkin was so much better than I expected! I thought it might be "interesting" tasting, if you know what I mean...but the pumpkin blended perfectly! And it was amazingly delicious, and packed with healthy foods!

Keeping with the pumpkin trend, we had pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting for dessert.

Dinner guests of honor!

 And the worn-out chef. This picture is funny because I have a lazy/twitchy eye! Sort of how I feel after making a big meal like this! Ha! But you can see I licked my platter clean (disregard Scarlet's half-chewed apple slice resting on my plate...)

And of course, our Halloween costume HINT!!

Costume Hint #3: Today we made part of Tommy's costume, and there is faux fur everywhere!

Any guesses?!?!?

Happy Haunting!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Act 6; Scene 4: Fall Colors Tour, 2015

This year we had two chances to visit the canyon to take in the fall colors.

One was a lovely September evening, and one was a rainy and misty Saturday morning.

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

(Costume hint at the end of this post)

Silver Lake, Big Cottonwood

The Alpine Loop, American Fork Canyon

Happy as a clam on the trail

Doesn't this look like a movie???

Nearing Sundance, Provo Canyon
What a beautiful world we live in! And, might I add, pretty mystical for this trip! Every time we go up in the canyon I say we should visit more often. There's nothing like the giant peaks and rugged forests.

And now of course.....our Halloween costume hint #2!

The hint is: Tommy is the "bad guy" from this fairy tale.

Happy Haunting! And color finding!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Act 6; Scene 3: October First (and first costume hint!)

Ahhhhh. Do you smell that?

It's fall. Orange afternoons, crispness in the air, pumpkins on the doorsteps...

and only 30 days until Halloween!

We celebrated with our kick-off Spooktacular Meal of the season.

Today being the first day of the month, Robert will be working late (until about midnight tonight). Being a Thursday, I had my musical theater class and would get home after normal dinner time. So we decided to go with a breakfast meal for today!

Tommy helped me make Halloween French toast

 Just take two different shades of bread and use cookie cutters to make shapes! Yes, Tommy insisted on a Christmas tree as well. My suggestion is to make sure you have very contrasting colors, and bread with large slices so the cookie cutters don't break the bread! But very fun for kids to help with.

Then Tommy helped me make candy corn fruit cups.
Tommy's typical picture face these days
 It's supposed to look like a piece of candy corn--pineapple (yellow), oranges (orange), and cream (white). We added a piece of candy corn for flair :-)

 And there you have it!

Just one little ghost left over with not enough batter. We'll enjoy this for snacks tomorrow!

And of course, being and October post, it is also the FIRST HINT for our annual Halloween costume guessing contest!!!

Here is this post's hint: We are from a fairy tale.

Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Act 6; Scene 2: The Grand Canyon

We absolutely LOVE the Centers living in St. George--only a 4 hour drive for us! That is, like, two days less driving than it would take to get to Ohio.

We have been trying to take advantage of their time here, and visit them as often as we can.

We have also been trying to see all that we can see in the Southern Utah area while they are here and we have family to visit and stay with!

One place I did NOT want to miss during this 3 year bonanza was The Grand Canyon. I visited the area when I was in middle school, and loved the experience. Although I knew my children would probably not remember it, I wanted to share its grandeur with Robert. 

And we did it! We planned a saga of a trip (kids=lots of time is needed when traveling!) and made it to The Grand Canyon.

We left on Saturday morning from our house, and made a spontaneous stop at Cove Fort. This was an unprecedented delight. We had a really great, not too long, interesting tour of the place. And our missionary talked right to Tommy, and he was pretty much on his best behavior because of it. Also, she let him open all the doors. So that earned some major bonus points. 

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures there! We were too busy learning, I guess! 

After Cove Fort, we progressed toward Bryce Canyon. Which ended up definitely NOT being just a stop on the way to St. George, as I had anticipated. It's about 2 hours out of the way--BOTH WAYS. Yikes. We progressed anyway. But when we got there, it was so crowded (Labor Day weekend--we should have thought about that!) that we couldn't find a place to park, and all of the trail heads start from one small parking lot which was frustrating. Did I mention that we discovered on this drive that Scarlet HATES being in her car seat? Funny that she used to want to sleep in ONLY her car seat. Now she cannot fall asleep in it. Needless to say, she was screaming. Which only added to the chaos of the Bryce adventure.

Finally we did get out and managed to see views like this:

Worth it? Perhaps. Walking along the rim edge was neat. But as soon as we got up there and realized we could hike along it, it was time for Scarlet to eat. Foiled again. At that point it was getting late, and we decided to head to a local restaurant before making the 3 hour journey to the mission home.

We got a little desperate when we saw long stretches of desert with no life visible ahead and ended up at a dicey looking motel and "steak house" after Robert saying "Are you sure? Are you sure?" and me snapping "Just do it! There is nowhere else and we will starve and die!" 
 Said "steak house" turned out to be a dinky diner with the prices of a steak house. Oh well, we splurged. On a burger and a fish sandwich. 

Then we saw a cool pizza place as we drove further down the desert.......but where else would I have gotten a genuine Bryce Canyon breaded cod filet on a bun????

After 12 hours (remember how I said that St. George is 4 hours from our house?) we made it to the Mission Home and threw everyone into bed as quickly as we could. Fortunately, Scarlet loves to sleep in the small and dark closet and slept like a champ.

The next few days were ones of rest and relaxation (and trips to the pool) in St. George. Kris and I even managed to do some Labor Day sale shopping for the kiddos.

On Monday night, Robert and I headed to Tuachan to see Sister Act--my first Tuachan show!

We had such a fun time! My favorite part was listening to Robert laugh through the whole show. I'm so happy when he loves a show!

The next day, after a trip to the pool, we gathered up all of our stuff (in the midst of a missionary leadership meeting--we were such a distraction!) and headed to the Grand Canyon right after lunch.

When we finally entered the canyon area, we were surprised to see this:

Forests of pine trees and a herd of buffalo! I felt like we were in Yellowstone, Wyoming rather than Arizona!

It is really strange, because you're driving along through this dense pine tree forest, and then all of a sudden through the trees you see the drop of the Grand Canyon--right next to you--miles deep of red and yellow rock! The juxstaposition of the landscape is amazing.

Angel's window

So this was one side of the road

And this is the trail on the other side of the road

A small hike led to this cool outcropping
We spent all afternoon and evening checking out every part of the North Rim that we could, and eating out of the back of the car (this may have been Tommy's favorite part--a picnic in the back of the car).

It's really hard to capture the scope of the canyon. It is huge and so far, far down! And so colorful, actually. Not just red--but red and gold and green and blue and purple and pink. Wow!

We ended up being there for sunset, even though we didn't really plan on it. Then we headed back to Jacob Lake and our cabin. There was one Queen sized bed, a tiny little bathroom (with a beer can in the garbage--awesome!). We set the pack n play up for Scarlet, laid out the sleeping bag for Tommy, and we huddled in the bed. And attempted to sleep. I think we got some???

The next morning we decided to try one more hike and a viewpoint before heading back to St. George.

The bison were out again!

You can see the frost on the ground in the picture above. When we got to the canyon fee area, we went from 37 degrees to 72 degrees in the drive to the lodge--about a half an hour. Wow!

 You can't really tell in this picture, but the lodge is built right on the edge of the canyon. You look out and see down. It is scary cool!
The wall here is the edge of the lodge, and it goes straight down (those are the tops of some scrub trees)

On a narrow lookout point
 The next few pictures are from a forested hike. We walked among the pine trees, and every once in a while would come to a viewpoint like these:

Our tired-out hiker

Look at all of those layers of color!
 The trip was beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Except when we had been driving at any certain point longer than 30 minutes, when Scarlet would start to scream. 

We had to take a few potty and nursing breaks along the way, and at one such break Scarlet had been screaming for a while. I took her out of her car seat (instant happiness) and sat her in Tommy's chair for a bit while we took turns using the Burger King restroom. She was VERY happy to be out of her seat!

After one more night in St. George, which included a family movie party watching Frozen on the big screen at the mission home, we headed home. Two hours after we got home I went to teach my musical theater class. Whew! But that is how we roll around here. 

What a fun trip. We're glad we took the initiative and braved it with the kiddos. It turned out great! Despite the screaming during car rides :-).

We look forward to many more Southern Utah trips in the next nine months!