Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mommy/Daughter Time

Lately I have been feeling like mama is all about school and chores. Not so much fun for the mama and not so much fun for the kiddos either. We are blessed with a lot of fun things to do as a family, but often I am a bit more wrapped up in the planning and doing of it all, and don't feel like I am enjoy things in the present as I should. I am watching these three little kids grow up right before my eyes, yet occasionally I blink and one (or more) of them seem to have matured overnight into a whole new stage of childhood. Too soon these days are going to pass, I'm sure.

Well, yesterday I decided to seize the day with my little girl. I was working with my hubby installing flooring, when I mentioned to him that I felt like Emma and I needed some girl time together. Half an hour later Emma and I were on the way to Disneyland.

I can't even explain how fantastic it was to hold her hand and just go. We started at California Adventure and went on Soaring Over California, which was a first for both of us (can't do that one with baby in tow). Next we walked over to the new Little Mermaid ride and only waited 10 minutes to get on it. Emma loved it and she was loving the one on one attention she was getting from her mama (honestly I was loving it even more). Next we went to walk through and see how they make sourdough bread while sampling (yum!). We decided to head over to Disneyland next. We walked in at 5:00 and found out the park was closing at 7:00 for a Halloween party. Emma wanted to walk through the castle, so that's where we headed first. We climbed up through the castle and read the story of Sleeping Beauty. Next we started over to Splash Mountain, another ride we can't do when Luke is with us. I knew Emma would be frightened of the big drop, so I did my best to distract her from it but it didn't work. We got in line and she started asking questions. The line wait was 65 minutes, and right away I was beginning to think we were not going to make it. After waiting 2 minutes a woman walked past us and ask if we wanted her fastpasses!! We got to walk right up to the front of the line!! We also got the back seat on the log, so we got to sit together, which was perfect. It was so fun, and Emma LOVED it too!

When we got off that ride we went into the Hungry Bear to get a honey cupcake to share. Perfect snack!

Them we start walking toward Big Thunder Mountain, but i couldn't talk Emma into it so we walked on by and decided a trip to Disneyland wasn't complete without It's a Small World, so that was next. We had 10 more minutes left, so decided a trip on the monorail to Downtown Disney may beat the crowds walking down Maim Street. It was perfect! Time for dinner. We got in line at a place in Downtown Disney, but decided to skip it and head back into California Adventure to have dinner. Man was it packed!! Seams like everyone getting kicked out of Disneyland had the same idea. We ended up walking by the crowded lines at the food places and found ourselves in front of Ariel's Grotto, a restaurant you normally have to make reservations for well I'm advance, but for some reason we walked in and were surprised to find out they could get us in!! We were seated near the window where the popular World of Color show was to start just outside in 15 minutes. We had an amazing meal that just kept getting better and better with every course. We could see the water and lights outside too, not the front of the show, but it was still beautiful! What was really fun was sitting and relaxing with my girl and having great conversation over great food. It's a time I will never forget. Absolutely perfect!! But it got even better because when the check came the waitress brought two tickets to see the next World of Color show up front and center. I thought it was a mistake, but she explained it was part of our meal. So we wrapped up our amazing day under the mist of the amazing show. I tried to hold my growing girl as much as I could so she had the best view possible. My eyes teared up a bit from the magic of the whole Disney moment and the fantastic day spent with my daughter.

So here I sit at 10:40 the next morning trying to get the fresh memories down while Emma is still sleeping in her bed hopefully dreaming about our fun day. A day that will not be forgotten!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

12 Years

A week ago my husband and I celebrated our 12th year of marriage by taking the kids and Grandpa Noack to Catalina Island for the day. Dan and I got to enjoy a date night alone the Saturday before thanks to my parents, so we decided it would be fun to make our anniversary day a family event. We had purchased tickets on Groupon for the Catalina Flyer earlier in the summer for half price and (after much persuading) talked Grandpa Noack into joining us for a day of fun.

We decided to rent a 6 person golf cart for 3 hours. I think that is the best way to see the town of Avalon. It gives you the freedom to travel up into the hills and see gorgeous views of the harbor. We also drove over to the casino and took in the view from there while letting the kids run around. We stopped at a park and let the kids play for a while too. It was a very slow paced and relaxing day.

After we returned the golf cart we had lunch at a restaurant right on the water and had just enough time to walk back and catch the boat back to the mainland.

It was really a wonderful way to celebrate our marriage, together as a family making memories.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


It is suddenly that time of year again when having the oven on to bake bread is a cozy thing. The past few days have been much cooler here in southern California. We even got some rain yesterday. I love making bread during the cooler months. There is something about the rhythm of making a couple loaves every week (or more) that is so satisfying. I think it is going to be even more fun this year with the addition of our new grain mill.

I use a recipe for my whole grain bread that I found online. It is Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread Recipe, and I know why it is so famous. It is simple and DELICIOUS. I use my KitchenAid and can make two loaves at a time, but I would someday love to own a Bosch and be able to handle 5 to 6 loaves at a time. Of course, I dare not tell my husband this or I will end up with another appliance that I really don't have room for.

Even the kids love to see the wheat berries turn into beautiful flour. So far I have been purchasing my wheat berries either at Sprouts Market or at Winco. They are both under $1 per pound.

Here my Kitchenaid is hard at work kneading the dough. I love that it makes the job so easy.

I always end up finishing the kneading by hand. I love the feel of the dough, and there is something about the warmth of it that soothes the soul.

After forming the loaves, they sit in the pans for about an hour to rise. The flour is such a beautiful color that the loaves already looked cooked.

It's not until they are in the oven that you get the first reward... the smell! Ahhh... fresh baking bread. Is there a better smell? Okay, maybe newborn baby breath, but fresh baking bread smells sooo good.

We can only wait minutes after the loaves come out of the oven before we slice one open and spread the slices with butter, which instantly melts. The kids always rave that it is the best bread ever, and I do believe I agree.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I have started making yogurt, and I love it! It tastes so good, and is so good for you. The kids have been eating yogurt daily for sometime. They are used to store sweetened yogurt, but will eat my home-made yogurt if I add some jelly or honey to it. I would love to one day not buy any more yogurt and only have homemade, but so far "their's and mine" is what we do.

Here are the steps I take to making yogurt at home:

First off, the cast of characters: milk, a little yogurt from the previous batch, a thermometer, and stock pot.

I set out the ingredients to come to room temperature while I bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. I hang the pot I am using for the milk over the one that is boiling to sterilize it and to help the pot of water to boil faster.

I use the two pots as a double boiler, pour the milk in, and bring it up to 185 degrees stirring frequently. This kills any bacteria.

When the milk hits 185 degrees I take it off the heat and set it in the sink full of cool water to bring the milk down to 110 degrees.

When the milk comes down to 110 degrees, I add in yogurt (or culture) from the previous batch. I use the ratio of 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to a half gallon of milk.

Then I pour the milk into mason jars and put them in an ice chest. I add warm water to the ice chest to keep the jars at 110 degrees for 7 hours. I check this with the thermometer and add warm water if the temperature drops. After 7 hours the yogurt should have solidified. I then take it out and let it cool and then store it in the refrigerator.

And voila... yummy, tart, fresh, yogurt. Such a morning treat with a little granola and honey on top. A terrific way to start the day!

Some great resources on making yogurt: Cultures for Health, and How to Make Your Own Yogurt