Monthly Archives: October 2010

Black Forest Trifle

pudding In the midst of our busy week with all the extra kiddos – I read that it was National Cupcake Day.

Being the wonderful person that I am – I knew it would be a tragedy for all those precious children to miss such an important holiday.

(What – you don’t believe me?! Okay, okay – so the real reason is that I’m a confirmed chocoholic and will use any excuse to make some chocolate!)

I used a new recipe for the cupcakes and surprised the kids at supper. They were really good! The frosting – however – was not. I fudged a little – okay a lot – on the frosting because I didn’t want to use the package and half of cream cheese the original recipe called for.

This recipe made a lot of cupcakes and those kids chowed down on them the first day. Slowed down a little on the second and pretty soon I noticed that no one even opened them.

It wasn’t until after the extra kids returned home and we were putting things away that I discovered why.

I opened the cupcake container and discovered that the frosting had dissolved and puddled at the bottom. I was left with 9 sad naked cupcakes with a few colored sprinkles on top.

Major frosting fail.

My first thought was “Just chuck them out to the chickens”.

But then my frugal side kicked in.  There was no way I was going to waste all that yummy chocolate.

So with Buddy to assist me – we turned the massive cupcake disaster into a fabulous Black Forest Trifle.

We started by crumbling half of the sorry looking cupcakes in the bottom of my pretty glass bowl. (I’m still on the look-out for a real trifle bowl!)

Then we took 2 cups of frozen cherries from the freezer (remember when we picked them with friends back in June?).

I thawed them, added 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of corn starch and brought them to a boil. When they were slightly thickened, we poured half of them over the brownies and let it cool. That thickened juice just soaked right up into the cupcakes!

Meanwhile we mixed up a small box of instant chocolate pudding.

When the cherry/brownie mixture was cool enough that it wouldn’t melt the pudding, we put half the pudding down followed by a layer of Cool Whip.

We then repeated with the layers in the same order – cupcakes, cherries, chocolate pudding and Cool Whip.

Yum. Yum. Double Yum.

Those poor rejected cupcakes were transformed into a delicious dessert that disappeared within 24 hours.

Waste not, want not – that’s my motto – especially when there’s chocolate involved! 🙂

I’ve linked this post up with Chocolate Friday over at Stop and Smell the Chocolates and with Foodie Friday over at Designs by Gollum.

Poison Ivy – Revisited

I can’t believe it.

Here I am a miserable, red itchy mess again – thanks to my nemesis – the dreaded poison ivy.

After my last horrible episode with the toxic weed I have been extremely careful outside. So how could I possibly get poison ivy when I have barely left the house for a week? I wasn’t even out of the yard since last Monday?!

But the kids were.

They were all over the property – in and out of ravines and up and down the hills.

Then they took their dirty clothes off and put them in the laundry.


I’ll give you three guesses as to who helped to sort that laundry and start it through the washer.

I must have gotten some of that nasty urushial oil on my forearms and spread it – everywhere – my arms, legs, back, all over my abdomen and even on my face.

With an outbreak this big, many of the things I’ve tried before just weren’t practical. I did shower twice a day using Dawn soap to stop the oil from spreading.

And I changed our bedding every day and I never wore any article of clothing more than once before washing it.

But the real hero for this nasty bout has become my die hard blow dryer – the one I bought back in college and now  pull out once a year to defrost the freezer.


I read online that blowing a blow dryer directly on the rash and holding it there for as long as you can will help with the itching. In my desperation, I tried it and – believe it or not – it worked.

It heats the rash up until it stings and itches so bad you can’t stand it.  But it stops the itching for a good two hours.

It wasn’t a cure all – nor did it stop the rash from spreading – but it did keep me sane until I could get in to the doctor for a round of medication.

Oh – happy pills – how I needed you!

Needless to say – it’s been a painful week thus far.

But there’s always a bright side – with the rash on my forearms I can’t do any laundry or dishes so I won’t spread it to others. 🙂

Just What Is a Homesteader?

homesteadingYou may have noticed that I often refer to my family as “homesteaders”.

I will admit that it has raised some questions.

Most people think of a homesteader as those brave souls who took up the “free” land offered by the government in the 1800’s.

They lived in tar paper shanties or earthen dugouts while they  “proved” up their section. They survived freakish blizzards and grasshopper plagues while settling up the mid-section of our great country.

That’s not us. (Although some of last winter’s weather was a bit freakish! 🙂 )

Neither are we farmers – or ranchers – or pork producers – or cattle producers – or dairymen. But I think the world of this people (and you should too if you ate anything today!) Some of my closest friends and many relatives would fall into these categories.

Even though we both live in rural America – those folks all have lots of land, big machines, large flocks or herds and they feed the world.

It’s their job and they do it well.

But it’s not us.

We’re homesteaders. We have some land, miniature tractors, a few animals and attempt to feed ourselves.

We don’t make a living from our land – but we try to live off our land.

We raise a few chickens for their eggs and their meat. We may have a few cattle or a few pigs – all with the intent to butcher them for our own needs.

We have a large garden and orchard so we can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. On a good year we even have some to share.

Webster’s dictionary defines a homestead as “The home and adjoining land occupied by a family”.

That’s us. We’re living on the land and making it a home.

We’re homesteaders.

A Trip to the ER

Our week with seven extra children had gone amazingly well – until yesterday.

There we were at day 6. Everybody had slept well and was happy. The sun was shining and the weather was unbelievably beautiful.

The kids had just finished the assigned task of picking all the apples off the trees in the orchard when the 4 boys asked to go out on an adventure.

I said, “Sure – but be careful – we’ve had no major injuries and I’d like to keep it that way.”


Famous last words.

I was working away on some music with Gladys when the boys came back in yelling that Gunnar was hurt.

My first thought was – yeah right. Those boys know I hate blood and gore, and I had heard the fridge open earlier. I just bet they smeared ketchup on him and are trying to get a rise out of me.

I took my time walking out to the kitchen trying to decide whether to pretend to be freaked out of let them know right away I knew it was a fake.

The truth was – I didn’t have to pretend. One look at poor Gunnar and I knew he was really hurt. Then I looked at his ankle and just about passed out. It looked like somebody had stuffed a hard boiled egg inside.

Oh my.

A quick call to an EMT friend (who has several sons and works the Friday night football games) confirmed my gut response – this needed a visit to the ER.

I sent the kids to the attic to find the pair of crutches that my husband had bought at a garage sale awhile back. I remember that I thought he was crazy at the time – but he said someday we’d be glad we have them.

Yep. I was glad all right!

With the help of those garage sale crutches, Pedro and I loaded him up in the van  and took off for town – leaving the remaining kids at home with my teens in charge. At least it was nap time.

It must have been a slow afternoon at our small town hospital because everybody in the area stopped by to see who was in the ER.  I should have sold tickets.

A quick trip to X-ray confirmed that is wasn’t broken (whew!) but was a severe sprain.

He left an hour later with a splint, an ice pack and a lecture about how important it is to stay off of it for several days or risk serious permanent damage.

He will spend the rest of his stay here on the couch playing chess and watching movies with his ankle elevated above his heart.

So much for playing Rambo in the ravines.

Meanwhile, I got to call his mom. “Hey Cinnamon! Remember those insurance cards and medical clearance forms you sent? Thanks so much.  I needed them at the ER today…”

Oh my! What a day!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

It’s been a busy week around here! We’ve had company – lots of company.  Seven extra children to be exact.

My friend Cinnamon had the opportunity to fly out and spend some time with her husband, who had a 4 day leave before being shipped out to Afghanistan.

She needed a place for the kiddos to hang out.

Now, honestly, who could resist spending a week with this little charmer?!

Not I.

Boy have we been busy! Home schooling the entire crew (all but the little guy – 11 in all), making meals, and lots of playing.

I’ve eaten more sand “cake” and sand “ice cream” in the last few days than I have for years!

We’ve picked apples from the orchard and gone on long hikes and explores in the woods, even eating our snacks by the ponds. The 20 pound “backpack” Dagmar is carrying does get a wee bit heavy!

Our extra “help” enjoyed harvesting all the mini pumpkins and gourds. I really hope they want to take some home with them!

We even built a fabulous “house”. It’s amazing how much fun a tarp over two tree limbs can be! The girls have found delicious “food” outside. They made soup out of leaves, hedge balls, and seed pods of all kinds – all cooked over their open (but pretend) fire.

You may have noticed that there are only 4 extra children in the pictures – don’t worry – I didn’t lose the other three! 🙂

They were busy with my kids, filming epic movies, chasing each other through the woods wearing camouflage, and playing ultimate frisbee.

Yep – it’s a busy place around here this week!