Sunday, July 26, 2009

Six Flags

The Steffeys came to town for an action-packed weekend. We did our neighborhood Fit Trail on Friday night and I so wish I had pictures of that spur of the moment fun. We all felt decidedly fit after that. Saturday we were at Six Flags ALL DAY and it was so fun and so tiring.

I'm not really a roller coaster ridin' type of gal, but the rest of the family is. Especially Riley and Nate! This is all 5 of them on the Evil Knievel ride. I'm pretty sure the hands up towards the back are Riley's.

The Tenholders at the end of the fun day

For some reason I love this picture of Logan

Sisters on the ferris wheel

What was he thinking about?

Mom and daughter on the wheel

Father and son

The guys. Why does my guy have to make a weird face, seriously? But he's cute.

Gals. We're cute.

Logan playing the "ring the bell" strong man game. He was amazing and won a super awesome glow in the dark cape that my mom may or may not have stolen.

The wind up:

He just made it ring, people!

And probably my favorite picture of the day: the sisters with Attitudes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Before the concert:

The Stanleys will probably hate this picture:

During the rockin' show:

It's hard to tell, but everyone broke out the lighters for an acoustic version of "Drive"

Saturday, July 18, 2009


It wasn't until Julie & Joe's wedding that I realized how fun the polka can be. The blur of hotness is me and my cousin-in-law (??) Lynn showing the rest of the wedding guests how the polka is truly danced. Wow.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Zucchini brownies

We are enjoying our summer's bounty of zucchini in our garden. For my first zuc recipe of the year I decided to try zucchini brownies. I wanted to make them pretty healthy, so I heavily modified this recipe.

I didn't make the icing, because gross. And I subbed canned pumpkin for the oil, whole wheat flour for half the regular, and took out the walnuts. My final recipe looked something like this:
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 scant cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 bar of Dove dark chocolate with blueberries and almonds, chopped into small chunks
And the final brownies looked like this:

I think that they were enjoyed by all. Definitely not as sweet and buttery as regular brownies, but still tasty!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

this is what I do

Only with less cars barreling towards me and without the fancy handheld computer.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Meet Jackamo. He has the most fabulous life imaginable. We rescued him from Chihuahua Rescue and Transport in January 2006. He's going to be 10 this year, but he still has a lot of life and spunk left.

Most of his time is spent lounging around on this pillow, the pillow on the right side of the office loveseat (NEVER the left), in our laundry basket (do all dogs like to lay in dirty laundry?), and sleeping on his blanket in the basement waiting for us to get home.

Likes: pillows, being under blankets, anything soft, cuddling, belly rubs, chasing laser pointers, treat treats, us, car rides, going on walks, laying by the fireplace until his belly reaches 105 degrees, laying in the HOT sun on the deck, making funny stretching sounds, having parties

Dislikes: kids on skateboards/rollerblades, going outside in the rain/cold/snow, earthquakes, being away from us (and refusing to eat), waking up, dogs larger than him (um, dude....), the rabbits in our yard, being told "goodnight, dude", people talking to him in a condesceding baby voice just because he's little and having to give them "the look"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Homemade Pretzels

For a fun weekend project we decided to try making homemade soft pretzels. I have been so inspired by food blogs like Smitten Kitchen and East Village Kitchen lately. I always have several recipes I'm waiting to try, but lately my head is swirling with recipes for pastries, breads, appetizers, and everything else that I'm tempted to arrange my life around my cooking schedule. I don't think my little kitchen holds a candle to theirs, but I'm working my way up! The biggest difference is that we're trying to incorporate the foods we grow into our cooking. I take so much pride in cooking with the vegetables and herbs grown in our backyard.

This recipe, however, is so simple. There are several steps and it is a little time consuming, but it was an afternoon well spent. We're the rare couple who enjoys cooking together more than cooking alone and we even manage to work well as a team.

This recipe is inspired by this one.

Mixing the dough - just flour, yeast, water, and salt. It starts out like any other bread.

Kneading the dough a few times before letting it rest and rise.

Punching down the dough after doubling time of about an hour.

Rolling out the 18 portions into 18" long strips. This is when the digital food scale came in handy - making sure that each portion was equal in weight so that the final products would be the same size and cook at the same speed.

Twisting our them into the pretzel shape. I actually really liked the rolling and shaping - it was so fun!

Our pretzels resting again before their bath.

More pretzels. Note the heart shaped pretzel Nate made for me! ::swoon::

We neglected to take a picture of the pretzel bath because it all happens so fast. Basically, pretzels are separated from any other bread because before they are popped into the oven you dunk them for about a minute in simmering water with baking soda and sugar added. It cooks them a little then they finish in the oven. The ones we were able to sprinkle with some leftover pretzel salt were definitely the best. The course granules are really needed for these little guys!

We added a good honey mustard (Bolthouse Farms brand) and some peach slices and called this a meal. I highly doubt this will be the last time we make these twisty guys!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wine Tasting in Hermann

We had a fabulous day in Hermann, MO with the Shooks. We did a great job of planning out this trip so that we could enjoy the day and not stress about any details. This was our first winery tour, and we loved it more than we expected. Well, I knew I would love it but Nate was less than optimistic but totally came around. Promising a brewery tour helped give him the push he needed.

We loaded up their Jetta with lots of snacks, water, good stories, and before we knew it we were all sea sick from the rolling hills leading up to Hermann. We arrived at Stone Hill Winery and did the VIP (cough cough) tour of the cellars and enjoyed the tasting a lot. Everyone was so nice and offered to let us sample anything we wanted!

The Shooks professionally posing. (Does that mean I just called them professional posers? Posers as in 12 year old punks who pretend to be skateboarders?)

An overcast, hot, and humid day in Hermann. Makes for lovely photos, no? Thanks to Nate for really, um, helping me with my leg there. I don't think he quite got the whimsical pose I was going for.

My tasty German lunch at Stone Hill included Schnitzel, potato salad, and a potato pancake. Our table also enjoyed varieties of Wurst, Brauten, and some spicy mustard. It was very heavy, but delicious!

Next up was Tin Mill Brewery. It was a very small place and we enjoyed the self-guided brewery tour which was actually a walk down a short hallway. I'm sure we all learned a lot? This is our cheap sampler we enjoyed. Since the air small air conditioned tasting room was full, we headed outside to the Biergarden. As Lucas so aptly put it, "This is just a parking lot!" It totally was - a gravel lot with lots of old rusty picnic tables and even rustier folding chairs. Soon enough we snagged an open table inside and sipped on Hefeweizen.

Our next stop was at Hermannhof Winery. It was not busy at all and we stepped right up to enjoy several tastings. They were also very nice and allowed us to taste anything that looked good. After a fierce round of fist-to-five, we decided to stay and enjoy a snack and bottle of wine. The baguette was still warm and the applewood smoked cheddar cheese was fabulous. We even sneaked in a few samples of salami and Nate enjoyed the braunschweiger.

All of the UFC talk inspired the guys to arm wrestle. They look pretty intense!

Well, sort of intense..........

Then the girls.......

Insert artsy shot here:

After Hermannhof we made our way to Time for Pie. It was the cutest and dare I say it, quaintest, little shop. The pie was just what we needed after all that bread and cheese, I'm sure. Our strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode tasted like a sweet summertime memory. On the way home we took a detour to Robller Winery but after seeing the empty parking lot we chickened out and turned around and went home.

I think our post-Hermann nap was one of the best ever. We had a great day and I think that there are many more winery tours in our future :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Um, which way should we go?

These awkwardly placed road signs may perfectly depict how we're feeling lately. We're asking for direction and, um, this is what we get?!?


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

Despite some rainy weather, we were all determined to have a fun-filled 4th of July. Based on the advice of a friend (thanks, Amanda!) we all packed up in the Graber's fancy new van and headed to the Science Center. The Science Center is pretty fun and totally free. Natalie had fun playing with light switches and running around and the rest of us had fun catching up.

And oh, I am pretty fabulous as a construction worker.

Yes, she really is even cuter in person.

After the science center and a little snooze time for all of us, we feasted in extremely stereotypical fashion. Burgers and brats on the grill and a red, white, and blue salad.

Seasonal produce at it's best: strawberries, blueberries, spinach, feta, honey pecans, chicken, and a raspberry merlot vinaigrette. Hell-o darling.

Again, we all learned that Nate's burgers cannot be beat.

We all headed to my work parking garage to see the fireworks at the Arch. Does it mean you're officially an old geezer when you don't want to drive an extra 10 minutes because of the "crowds, noise, parking, and what time will we even be home OMG it's so late already?" Well, if we're in geezerdome we're fine because look how happy we are?

I love this picture of Ashley and Natalie because Natalie is in mid sentence - just like she always is. I'll bet she was saying "HIIIIIII, Nasan!" She is pretty crazy about that Nathan!

It was a very fun and very tiring weekend. It's been going strong for 2 years and I think that makes it an official tradition!

These are my two favorite pictures of the weekend: Nate totally taking command of the stroller when we took Natalie to the park. No wonder "Nasan" is her favorite person - he's always taking her places, smiling at her, and basically doing whatever she wants him to do!

Such a sweet ladybug!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Peach Coffee Cake and Cheesecake Pops

We were so excited for 4th of July weekend because our friends the Grabers and Jen were coming into town! In preparation for them coming, I made this peach coffee cake since peaches are in season and, um, I felt like making a cake for breakfast! I did make a few changes: I added about two medium diced peaches to the batter and sliced three peaches to top the batter. I also omitted the almond extract because we didn't have it. Believe it or not, I think that the cake itself could have used even more peaches and a little extra sweetness. It was still a huge hit and I think Natalie could have eaten half the cake by herself!

Arranging the peach slices and then sprinkling the crumb topping:

The finished product:

I LOVE using my springform pan for recipes like this because everything looks so much nicer when I can just pop it out of the mold and nothing gets crumbly and messed up.

On Friday night, while Adam and Ashley were seeing the Counting Crows at the Arch and after Natalie had gone to bed I got to work on the cheesecake pops I promised to take to a family BBQ on Sunday. I made these for my black & white birthday party and I think we had 0 leftover. They're so fun, cute, and easy to make.

I used a Trader Joe's cheesecake because that's a lot easier than making my own (although I love making cheesecakes - especially for my man). It's a pretty tasty and cheap store bought cheesecake.
1) I balled up the cheesecake, crust and all, and put the balls on waxed paper and back into the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.

2) I then put lollipop sticks into each ball and put them back into the freezer for about 20 minutes.

3) I dipped half in white chocolate and half in dark chocolate. I stick them on a styrofoam board so they can sit upright.

They kept just fine in the freezer, covered up with a Target bag, for 2 days. I suspect they might make it longer, but we've never had the opportunity to leave leftovers just laying around :-)