Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wilshire Trails

The next stop on what is apparently a grand tour of the parks of our area ... Wilshire Trails! This one was nice especially because of the playground. We went here last week, the 19th.

The kids loved it!

The trail winds through the woods behind the playground.

Joe the adventurer!
As we were walking, I heard a faint cracking sound and immediately looked up at the trees to see what was going to fall. Within a couple of seconds, a big branch came tumbling through the canopy and crashed onto the paved trail ahead. We were in no danger, but a gentleman walking toward us had narrowly escaped. It made for an exciting interlude for the kids! We cleared the path and moved forward.
Moving the branches and leaves from the pathway.

Why are they sitting there? I'm stumped.

Holding hands with Mama.

There were lots of bridges and Lauryn and Selah were thrilled with each one.

There were spider webs on this bridge. Lauryn had to stop and inspect them.

The kids are always wiped out at the end of these long Tuesdays.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What the Kids Did

While Jeff and I were enjoying our anniversary trip to Florida, my parents were taking care of the kiddos. Over the weekend, they took the kids to Charleston.

Their first stop was the South Carolina Aquarium ...

This was the lemur display.

Mom said the girls did NOT want to leave the Jeep!

Kaity the figurehead!

They had some pretty crazy creatures on exhibit!

My little birdies, always hungry.
On the journey home, Mom and Berk decided to detour over to Botany Bay. It was a gorgeous day for pictures!

The kids had such a great time with Grammie and Bobba that I'm not sure they even missed us!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Elachee Nature Center

Last Tuesday, I took Joe, Selah and Lauryn to the Elachee Nature Center. We walked the Ed Dodd trail and I learned something new! It turns out Ed Dodd is the creator of the Mark Trail comic from the newspaper. Apparently, he was a resident of Gainesville and after his death this trail was named for him.

Lauryn kept shouting excitedly, "We're in the woods!"

"Take a picture of me up here, Mommy!"

This Eastern Tent Caterpillar was inches from Lauryn's face before I got her to notice it.

They could have stood there throwing rocks in the creek for hours.

Joe's eagle eye spotted this Brown Watersnake sunning himself on a log in the middle of the creek.

Pink Honeysuckle

Eastern Garter Snake - I nearly stepped on this fella while pointing out the trillium to the kids!
Right outside the nature center's main building there was a play area. On a platform there were tubs of small logs and circles cut from logs. The kids had the best time building stuff and playing with these.
Joe set up a game of tic-tac-toe and we played several times.

Lauryn found a piece of log with a small protrusion and immediately pronounced it to be a hammer.
The hammer was in demand by everyone. At one point Selah was using it and Lauryn wanted it back. With a meaningful look at Joe and a gesture to some nearby twigs, I asked him to find a "screwdriver" for Lauryn to use. He caught on quickly and offered her a small twig.

"Here's a screwdriver for you, Lauryn!"

"Thanks, Joe!" She fiddled with it for a moment, then with an absolutely disdainful tone, nose wrinkled in disgust, she announced, "It's not a screwdriver, it's a STICK!"

We rounded out the day with ice dreams from Chick-Fil-A, and a frosted coffee for Mama!

Friday, April 15, 2016


"If your dish doesn't cut it ... YOU will be chopped." - Ted Allen

Kaity and Joe have been wanting to do this for a looong time, and today it finally happened. I didn't have dinner planned and we were grocery shopping ... the stars were in perfect alignment. When we arrived at Aldi, Kaity walked behind us and put her chosen items in a shopping bag. At the checkout, I took the little girls to the restroom and Kaity paid for all of our groceries.

"Ted" graciously put an hour on the clock ...
I look as nervous as I feel!

And your basket ingredients are: couscous ... edam cheese ... skirt steak ... and ... raspberry lemonade twisted fruit ropes!

Immediately, I pop the steak in the freezer so it can firm up a little for slicing. I know I'm going to marinade it, and I get that going right away. I'm using the fruit rope, fresh lemon zest and juice, orange juice, soy, salt, pepper and ginger.

Of course, throughout the cooking process, Kaity and I were making all kind of jokes and repeating the show's cliches and stock phrases like, "She hasn't even touched the cheese yet!"; "Get it on the plate!" and "Did you salt the pasta water?"

The photographer didn't take very many process shots, so I'll have to fill you in ... In butter, I sauteed together some finely diced onion, diced carrot, slivered almonds and broken angel hair pasta. After bringing chicken stock to a boil, I added in the carrot/pasta mixture. After 2-3 minutes, I poured in the couscous, stirred it and took it off the heat. Before serving, I stirred in chopped parsley and shredded Edam cheese. I knew I needed another vegetable on the plate, and opted for something green. I seasoned frozen peas with lemon-pepper and got those heated through. In the last few minutes, I cooked the skirt steak on a hot grill pan.

Yes, Kaity was standing over my shoulder counting down while I plated!

The judges: Renowned picky eater and Minecraft expert, Joe Pittard! Budding chef and talented crocheter, Kaity Pittard! Known for eating his baked potatoes with no salt or butter, Jeff Pittard!

"Today I have for you, judges, a soy and citrus marinated grilled skirt steak, served on a bed of 'couscous pilaf', and lemon-pepper green peas. Enjoy."

Never a good sign when the judge has to suppress his gag reflex.

This thoughtful judge enjoyed the way the couscous was really transformed into something new. She liked the addition of cheese. Judge Jeff thought the meal was amazing and polished off everything on his plate. All in all, they decided not to chop me!