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Archive for July, 2012

This past weekend we attended a family reunion hosted by some wonderful people on my mom’s side of the family.

It was a blast.

We had the opportunity to connect with family we don’t see as often as I’d like, to meet extended family we’ve never seen before and enjoy some really, really good food.

Rather than ramble on and on about it, I’ll just share some photos…

Let’s start with the food. There was a lot of it and it was fantastic.

Especially the pit barbecue.

They dug a big pit, built a big fire, let it burn down to coals, wrapped the meat in foil then in burlap then laid it over the coals. They also wrapped up potatoes in foil and hung them in wire baskets from metal fence posts across the pit. The whole thing is then covered with tin then dirt and left to roast for about 12 hours. There was beef roast, beef ribs and lamb. So tender, so flavorful and so, so good.

First, they shoveled off the dirt covering the beef pit.

Then they removed the tin.

Then you could see meat and potatoes waiting to be taken to the hungry masses.

They grabbed the wire baskets of potatoes and removed them first.

Which, by the way, were so yummy!

Then they fished out the meat.

They took it to a table and unwrapped the meat.

And after letting it rest a few minutes, they started carving.

While the meat and potatoes were coming out of the pit, dad decided to set up another tent. That’s him giving directions.

Young and old alike gathered for a fun time of visiting…

catching up…

and eating.

After everyone was stuffed, photos of family groups were taken.

Which resulted in only a few moments of random chaos.

and a lot of fun.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the family reunion a great time for the rest of us!

She Who Has a Great Family

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The other day I was flipping through a magazine and saw an article about an event planner who hosted a party on her front porch.

What a fun idea!

I loved the thought of a casual gathering where people can come dressed for the summer season, sit back and relax with good food and great friends.

With your guests casually gathered outside, there is no need to worry about the dust bunnies hiding behind your couch or the wall in the kids room that really needs painted.  Just make sure your bathroom is sparkling and the kitchen is clean and you are ready to entertain!

Here are a few ideas to make the most of a party on your porch (or patio):

• Decorations – keep it simple. If you’ve already got pots of flowers outside on your porch, just leave them where they are. You can add a fresh bouquet to a table, if you like, but play off what you already have available.
String some fun lights along the edge of the porch and put flameless candles or lanterns around for some soft lighting if you plan to be out after the sun goes down. If you can, take time to sweep down the porch, remove any cobwebs and dust that may have accumulated and wipe down chair seats.

• Seating – create groupings of chairs and make sure you have enough places for everyone to sit. Some people might lean against a porch rail for a while, but eventually everyone will want to sit down. Kids can sit on porch steps if you are short on room or chairs.

•Invitations – send an email or make a phone call. No need to get fancy or formal. Make sure your guests know this is a super casual gathering.

• Food – serve finger foods.  These are easy for guests to nibble and pick at without being heavy. Don’t put your food all on one table. Use smaller tables and space them around the porch. You might have a beverage station, a dessert station, a table with cheese, fruit and crackers and another with meats and more filling appetizers like mini quiches or stuffed tomatoes. Keep cold foods chilled by placing trays or bowls in a container filled with ice. Use a child’s wagon, a galvanized tub, even a plastic storage tub will work. Just fill with ice and nestle in your serving pieces.

• Beverages – make this easy on you by offering just a couple selections. You could make a couple of pitchers of flavored ice tea like mint or lavender and serve along with ice water. Make sure you have plenty of ice. When you think you’ve got enough, add one more bag. Use a cooler, a bucket or metal tub filled with ice to keep bottled beverages cold. You can also use small canning jars and pour in a variety of drinks, like lemonade, juices or  tea, to offer a variety of choices without a lot of fuss or mess. Just screw the lids on the jars and let your guests select their favorite drink. Have plenty of chilled water on hand, be it bottles or pitchers.

• Extras – have a clean-up station set up with a dishpan for dirty dishes and utensils, a large garbage can and some paper towels or wet wipes for messy fingers. If you make it easy for guests to clean up after themselves, they generally will. Offer your guests a parting gift that is summer-themed, like some lemonade mix or a little bag of salt-water taffy.

Go on, invite some friends over for a super-easy, super fun porch (or patio) party soon. You’ll be glad you made the time to connect!

She Who Loves Porches

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The other night, Captain Cavedweller and I went out for dinner. After placing our orders, I ran into the restroom to wash my hands only to find a little blond-haired pixie, who couldn’t have been more than 5, standing on her tiptoes splashing in the sink.

She eyed me when I came in and continued flailing water around the sink. Finally, she stretched up and turned off the faucet, pulled out a wad of paper towels and played at drying her hands.

Continuing to keep an eye on me she finally threw her towels in the garbage, put her tiny hands on her hips and gave me a once over.

“You got any bucks?” she asked.

Completely convinced I misheard her, I begged her pardon.

Apparently no one has ever done that before, because she looked at me in confusion.

“I’m sorry,” I said, leaning down  toward her. “I didn’t hear what you said.”

“You got any bucks? You know, money,” the little imp said.

“No, I don’t have any money,” I said, telling the truth since my purse was safely tucked away at the table with CC.

“Are you sure? You better check your pockets,” she said, taking a step forward.

Fearful she might decide to check my pockets for me, I showed her all they contained was some lint.

“Where’s your bucks?” she asked, growing concerned by the fact I didn’t even have a dime on me.

“Back at my table,” I said, wondering what type of parent turned this little robber baron loose in the restroom let alone hadn’t taught her any manners.

“Oh,” she said, then sashayed out the door.

With a sigh of relief that my interrogation had ended, I walked back to our table and informed CC that all the precocious child needed was a boy named Clyde and a get-away tricycle.

She Who Hasn’t Got Any Bucks in Her Pockets

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The other day I found a recipe on Pinterest for a bar cookie that looked pretty yummy. I’d just purchased a box of Pink Lemonade Cookie Mix (for no other reason, than I thought the box was pretty and it sounded fun). Since the recipe called for a cake mix, I decided to tweak it a bit.

I have to tell you, the bars turned out pretty good. Really good. So good, in fact, that Captain Cavedweller may have eaten quite a portion of them which says a lot since he’s sweet tooth is the size of a pea rather than my elephant sized one.

This was easy to make and really worth the time! Give them a try. The sweet-tart hint of lemonade was amazing!

Mix butter, egg and the cookie mix until blended.

Spread the crust evenly into a 9X13 baking pan coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix cream cheese with eggs.

Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.

Pour batter over crust.

Pop into a 300 degree oven and bake about 40-50 minutes.

 

Bake until top is a golden, luscious field of crispy brown.

 

Dust with powdered sugar, cool and slice into bars. Then consider sharing, if you’re in the mood.

 

Pink Lemonade Bars

1 box Pink Lemonade Cookie Mix

3 eggs

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix softened butter and 1 egg with cookie mix. Press into 9 x 13 baking pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat softened cream cream cheese and remaining two eggs until blended. Add in sugar and blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until crust is golden and crackling. It will be almost too lovely to eat. Almost.

Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Cool. Cut into bars and sink your teeth into the sweet-tart bliss!

She Who Loved The Flavor of These Bars

 

 

 

 

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