Monday, October 27, 2014

Viseting the Zoo with a Crowd of Friends

    Today we took a whole day and visited the Columbus Zoo with a lot of other friends. Because it was autumn time, a lot of the shows and exhibits were closed, but we still had a blast-and-a-half! The fountain at the entrance provided a fun time. The kids scooped up the coins at the bottom and threw them back in.

 That was almost the best exhibit of all ... but not quite :)

The older children shared their coins with the younger ones so everyone got a turn.

 We didn't get to see everything today -- the Columbus Zoo is HUGE -- but we did make it to the aquarium, matinee house, Heart of Africa, Australian & Islands Exibit, and the Polar Frontier, with a hour break for lunch. That was enough to fill the entire day.

This little brother of mine was a trouper. He pushed these two little ones around all day. 
I think he enjoyed it.

    Again, we tried to get as many pictures we could with the statues  around the zoo. We didn't get as many as we did the last time we went to the zoo. Last time we got six photos and this time we just got three. Above are the statues of the matinees and below is a statue of a Triceratops

All of the children were able to fit on this statue.

Four young girls and the polar bear family

    We briefly walked through the new dinosaur exhibit and stopped at the gift shop to take pictures. My sister is on a mission (you can read about her adventures on her mission blog) and we miss her a ton -- she always made trips like these double the fun. 
    We took a lot of fun pictures to send to her ... the one above is one of them.

Of course you can't pass up the carrousel.

       Some of the older boys got so in-character on those horses that the woman in charge had to ask them (over the loud speaker) to not bounce up and down on the horses. Mom bought a ticket too, but when the woman in charge told her that she couldn't ride side-saddle, she just sat on one of the benches next to a friend.

    The Vervet Monkey was the most fun to watch. Most of the children decided that that was their favorite part of the whole trip. He was just swinging and having a good time in his tree. Above is a picture of us watching him.

    We too a break for lunch. And What A Lunch! Every family packed and then shared what they had. It was a regular feast. We found an empty canopy outside the zoo, just at the entrance, pulled over a couple other benches and tables and had ourselves a comfortable picnic in the shade.

    And speaking of lunch ... one of the neatest things we got to do today was feel the giraffes. We all got a piece of lettuce and laughed while the giraffe licked it right out of our hands. I've never been so close to a giraffe in my life.
    We also got to see the cheetah run after a lure which was fun to see

And of course, you can't do a post about a zoo viset without just a few pictures of just the animals 
(although I did manage it last time)

Above: Momma Vervet Monkey and her 7-week-year-old
Below: Cheetah sunbathing in the heat of the afternoon

This polar bear is one of the two polar bear sisters that live there at the zoo.

    Well, we decided to top the day off with a ride on the shuttle -- it took us all the way from the polar frontier to the entrance. The boys in front had a blast --- we all did.

We couldn't make it past the fountain without paying one last visit.

What a great day! 
Going to the zoo is fun, but going with a crowd of friends is the best -- Hands Down!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall Festival -- How Many Legs Does it Take?

    Every year, a member of our congregation puts together a Fall Festival of sorts. It's fun to go, be with friends, eat some homemade chili and hot chocolate, play some tug-of-war or enter a doughnut eating contest. My brothers and sisters gathered some friends together and organized a three legged race down the hill.
    You will eventually see that this is only the beginning to the fun.

However, I do have to apologize for the poor photo quality. 
I forgot my camera at home and used my father's I-phone to take these pictures.

And They're Off!

    And, of course, you can't just stop there! How about a three legged sack race?

My sister and her friend tried to fit all four legs in on sack. They successfully made it to the finish line, but had a fun loose-your-balance-and-tumble episode afterwards.

Who's up for the three-legged sack race?
But why stop there?

    The last thing they tried was a twelve legged race. But, only it wasn't really a race because after everyone was tied to each other, there was no one left to compete against. They had the best time chanting, "Left, right, left, right, left, right..." as they marched through the corral and out barn door. 
    Some of the littler guys had to do the splits with each step to keep up with the long legged ones (my brother being the biggest culprit), but everyone just had a good time. Eventually, one of the bandannas can untied and half of the walkers got ahead of the others. But everyone just cheered and laughed.   

    We truly have the best set of friends -- people who don't mind having their ankle tied to ours and our arm around their shoulders. Maybe, real life is kind of like that. It might feel like a race sometimes, but really we're all tied together and the only way to move ahead is to put your arm around the person next to you and help to steady them as you both take a step forward. 
    In any case, what a beautiful night. Thank you to all those who hosted and attended.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Barn Dancing as Family & Friends

I Can't Believe It! My sister is leaving on her mission in four days! 
We decided to hold one more barn dance before she had to go

    While I was at school this last year, my family started to organize and hold barn dances once a month. We decided that we like dancing -- but not the fist-pumping, hip-jerking kind. We weren't the only ones who felt this way, so we decided to organize our own dances -- ones with good wholesome lively music and steps that the whole family could enjoy. 
    Our family learns the square dances online and then teach them to the rest of the group. We have learned a good number now -- all of them fun and easy for even the youngest to learn. Everyone always looks forward to the next Family Dance (as we lovingly call them).  

   Dancing "The Big Mountain Circle"

    As the type music and dance moves become more and more unholy and unchaste these days, dancing -- in the English culture -- as become promiscuous. We have set up the Family Dances in order to show people how dancing can be. Dancing can be wholesome, it can be done as a family, it can be comfortable and it can be fun.

My brother and his partner for the "Virgina Reel"  -- he made up for her shorter arms :)

    Some of the dances that we do are: The Virgina Reel, Big Mountain Circle, Oh Suzanna, Heel Toe Polka, Welcome Dance, and we're going to be learning The Cumberland Square very soon. 
    We buy the music online and play it from speakers connected to our computer. All of the music is just violins, banjos and guitars. Lots of fun, but still wholesome.

How we love to get together for any and all occasions!

   I have learned that if life doesn't hand you what you need, sometimes you have to go seeking or even create it yourself. Don't give up on yourself or on others. If what you need is good and right, you'll be helped along.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What? Healthy French Fries?

    Who doesn't like French Fries? Sure, I don't like the way the grease seems to line my insides or the way my stomach groans and pinches after eating them -- but they are super yummy while I'm eating them. Well, my family has come up with a way to make healthy french fries and we absolutely love them. They're perfect as a side dish or even a snacky-something-or-rather.
    Here's how we do it...

First wash your potatoes, cut them in wedges or strips and lay them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

    We don't peel the the potatoes because that's where all the vitamins are and they don't really change the fries too much. But, of course, even if you do peel yours, they will be more healthy than Wendy's fries.

    There are lots of ways to cut the potatoes. You can make them look like traditionally-shaped fries (pictured above), but the wedge shaped ones (pictured below) taste just the same as the others.

Melt your oil. We use coconut oil for our fries because it's healthier, but you can use vegetable oil.

    Coating them with oil used to be the hardest part. We used to baste them with a brush, but we decided that just wasn't efficient. So then we put oil in a Tupperware along with the fries and coated them by shaking the Tupperware, but then we got oily hands afterwards as we lined them up on the sheet.
    NOW, we put the oil in a spray bottle and spray the fries. EASY and kind of fun. My little brothers and sisters stick around and eagerly volunteer to do this job so I can do some cleaning up while they coat the fries. 

Make sure they are well coated -- then IMPORTANT: Sprinkle on the salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until they are as crispy as you like them.
Sample a frie from the oven and decide whether they need to bake for longer or not.

    Serve with sandwiches (cucumber sandwiches are my favorite!), soup, meat, or nothing. You can even make you own honey-mustard sauce (just mix honey and mustard in equal parts) to dip your fries in. Enjoy ... and if you have questions leave me a comment.

    Potatoes (red or gold)
    Oil (vegetable or coconut)
    Salt (sea or rock :)

    Wash and cut your potatoes into wedges (regular frie size or just a little bit bigger). Lay them on a cookie sheet and coat them with oil either by brushing them with oil (not recommended since it takes a LONG time), shaking them up in a Tupperware with the oil, or using a spray bottle full of your oil. After the potatoes are coated sprinkle them with the amount of salt you desire.
   Bake fries at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. The thicker the fries the longer they need to bake. Principle: bake them until they are as crispy as you like them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blackberries on the Loose

    The last thing to harvest around here are the blackberries. The raspberries are still bearing, but we have so many in our freezer now that we can't fit another gallon bag until we start making jam. But if the raspberries did well this year then so did the blackberries.

    This is the first year we've harvested blackberries and we've harvested quite a few. Even though it froze while we were on our vacation in Utah, they are still bearing and we are still freezing them away. I think we want to try our hand at blackberry jam this year -- we'll see how our strength is in a few weeks. It's on low right now.

Blackberries On The Loose! :)

    I actually didn't pick many raspberries today. I just took pictures as my brother picked them He's a really good sport. My famiyl is good to let me take pictures of them while they work :) He and I had a great conversation up on the hill though. We were talking about movies and why they stick with you so long after seeing them and why they make you so tired afterward. 
    He's brilliant, this brother of mine.

And there they are ... black bulbs of juice.

    You can freeze blackberries in jars or Tupperware or plastic bags -- just like any other fruit. Right now we just use them in our morning milkshakes, BUT, like I said before, we might be making jam soon. We will be making peach-red-raspberry jam in the next couple of weeks so come back soon for a peak.