Friday, May 23, 2008

And The Winner is.....

Drum roll please.....

Congratulations! You will love this vanilla. Email me your address and the package will be off.
Thanks for your comments everyone.

What I See Out my Window...

If I could have organized this photo shoot I would have had the butterfly on my side of the screen and window, but that's how it is with nature photography. {So now I've decided I'm a nature photographer with one butterfly shot. JK } I saw a blog awhile ago entitled, "What I See Out my Window". I've been meaning to copy this one. Today, this butterfly stopped the procrastination.
Isn't he/she beautiful????

To Celebrate our First Month Here...

I am having a little give away. Since we love comments, I am putting everyone's name in a hat {actually my diaper bag} that has made a comment on our blog so far and drawing a winner. I'm sure you are wondering what the fabulously luxurious prize might be. A bouquet of flowers? A week in Costa Rica? Nope, even better. The winner will receive a bottle of my FAVORITE vanilla. Yep, can you believe it? Here in CR they have this brand of vanilla here.

I love it! When you open the lid you can't help but smell the sweet vanilla lofting towards your nose. I add it to everything. It is so much more potent than the vanilla in the states. Put this in your cookie recipe and everyone will ask for the recipe. Trust me, you will love this stuff and never go back. You just might have to make a trip here to replenish when it's gone. And the winner is....

We will announce tomorrow.

I've got to have a little suspense don't I? I mean, come on, I'm giving away vanilla! {But it's awesome vanilla.}

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh, What I Let my Kids Get Away with Here...

Because it's so hot outside, I don't have transportation, I'm home schooling Paige and I don't know the language, we are home {inside} most of the week. {Besides my infrequent rendezvous to the grocery store.} I'm not complaining just stating some facts. I thought it might be interesting to mention some of the things I've let my children do in the name of exercise or learning that I wouldn't if we were in the states. This might not be so shocking to some of you who know me well; I am a pretty relaxed mom. When a mess is made, I usually think of all the brain cells that were built as they were making the mess. Usually that is. Sometimes I don't pick up on that point until after I've done the" mommy freak out", "what have you done" and "what were you thinking" act!

1. Jumping on the bed. Not only do they jump on the bed but I encourage it. I've said things like, "I'm trying to get dinner done. Why don't you go jump on the beds with your brother?" I've pushed all three beds together to make a larger playing area for my guys. I've even jumped with them! Hysterical laughter came spewing out of me last week when I thought of a few of my friends doing he same thing, then imagining the look on their kid's faces. Now that was funny!!!

2. Playing in the sink. The youngest two love to do this. {See above picture} Oh, and I need to mention that it was before 8am when this picture was taken. That is why my children aren't impeccably dressed.

2. Using the dishes to make castles. My only complaint about this one is having to {hand} wash everything afterwards. Opps, one other complaint! The noise on the tile floor is deafening.

3. Spread dishwashing liquid on the floor to resemble an ice skating rink. (Don't try this on carpet, unless you need your carpet cleaned. Then you can multi task. Oh this is such a blast!!!! My guys are going to have such balance! I was on my rear most of the time. Advice if you try this one, keep the munchkin's hands out of their eyes. Good luck with that one!

4. Race car blankets. Have one child lay on a sheet while the other child holds an end and races around the kitchen table. Make sure that the child pulling the blanket goes both directions or he/she will have disportionatly large muscles on one side of his/her body.

5. Catch dead bugs out of the pool to study. How ingenious is this. You don't have to feel the guilt of killing an insect. The pool has done the murdering for you. (We've found frog(s), dragonflies, grasshoppers, huge wasp looking things and small colorful creatures.

So, is there something that you let your kids do that most of the world might be surprised by?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Easy Homemade Bread...

When we decided to move here to CR, I knew that we had 14 bags we could bring that couldn’t be larger than 62 linear inches. That is a very specific space to cram all of your family’s important “can’t live with outs” into. It is interesting how our priorities have changed through the packing process. We still don’t have a T.V. but we did bring the Game Cube. {The kids have yet to ask for a T.V.} How nice is that???
Wes brought his golf clubs and has yet to use them. My two splurges were, my MAC {my computer} and my bread maker. The Mac my husband didn’t argue with. The breadmaker, I have to admit I thought he’d tease me relentlessly about that one. Maybe it’s because he devours my homemade bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls and such. Or maybe he loves walking in the house and smelling that home made smell? I’ll ask him and get back to you.
So here is that easy, yummy recipe!

2 teaspoons of yeast (a package of yeast is 2.5 teaspoons so you will need to
3 tablespoons of white sugar
1 cup of warm water
3 cups of flour
¼ cup of melted butter, not to hot
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

In your Breadmaker
(by the way, if you hit your local thrift store you can usually find one for about $5.00! At least that’s the going rate at Deseret Industries Thrift Stores. I bought 2)
Dump the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir just a little, shut the lid and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes open the lid and the ingredients should be foamy.
Now add the flour, butter and salt. You can have your bread maker do all the work from here, but I don’t. I set it on the dough setting. In an hour and a half it beeps to let me know the dough is ready. I knead it just a few times on a floured cutting board. Then put it in a buttered bread pan into a slightly warmed oven for 30 minutes to rise. Take it out and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Yummy!

Another variation on this recipe. When the dough is ready, roll it out {(casually) I don’t mean dressed casually, just that it doesn’t quite matter how thin you roll it.} and brush on some melted butter. Then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top, roll it back up and put in the bread pan. Continue with directions. This bread makes the BEST cinnamon French toast.

Shawna’s Best Cinnamon French Toast {creative title, yes?}

8 eggs
3 tablespoons of melted butter
4 tablespoons of milk
Cinnamon at your discretion
1 loaf of cinnamon bread, sliced

Mix the first 3 ingredients with a whisk in a bowl. Now sprinkle the top of the egg batter with a little bit of cinnamon. Swirl cinnamon with tip of whisk {finger}.
Now dip the bread, both sides, into the batter. Place bread in skillet and cook on both sides. Serve with warm syrup. {Come on, who can ruin this with cold syrup.} Any extra slices, and believe me there won’t be, can be a little under cooked and put in baggies in the freezer to pop in the toaster on those crazy late for school days. Or, wrap the bread up in plastic wrap, grab an adorable ribbon and tie it into a nice bow. Voila, you’ve got a nice presentation of a cheap gift! {ribbon idea from}

Now look at that. I go to put up one recipe and I give you three plus a gift idea. Wow, sometimes I’m amazing. Now that I have ignored my little ones for 30 minutes, I need to go clean up. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've Met Someone New...

I'm in love and my sweetie knows about it. This is Gloria and she helps me with the house. At first Wes had her set to come twice a week and I argued with him. I told him once a week was fine. Twice a week is too much. What can she possibly do for 5 hours two days a week in a tiny, little space. Well what she does is amazing. The house is spotless when she leaves at 1:00. We won't discuss how long it takes my little ones to destroy it. I am convinced that she must have worked retail {clothing} because she can fold a shirt in 5 seconds flat and it is FLAT! She also can fold a fitted sheet and you won't be able to tell it's the fitted one until it's completely unfolded. And even then you really have to look. Can you believe these shirts? Beautiful! The other fantastic thing about her is that she does that scoop up the baby, snuggle, and speak in Spanish baby talk. Landon didn't know what to think about it the first time. Now he snuggles in and enjoys it.
I used to have the "I need to work when the help is here" syndrome. Now I can even be found in the pool with the kids or getting in extra snuggles with my little one. More time to be the mommy. How sweet is that? Thank you Gloria! Thank you honey! {the last thank you is to my husband, in case you thought differently}

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pictures from earlier...

On our visit to Manuel Antonio Park, we stopped at this restaurant "Coste Verde" just on a whim. It was breathtaking. The entire restaurant was off a cliff. We didn't realize that with all the vegetation hiding the descent. It had the appeal of being invited to dine in the Swiss Family Robinson's tree house, although we were billed at the end. The meals were "American" sprinkled with Costa Rican flavor. Then of course Wes' ordered the "typical CR dish" which we all enjoy; rice, beans and natilla {similar to sour cream} sometimes mixed with scrambled egg. I have to say I've gotten good at preparing this. Of course because of the challenging lighting, the pictures do not do the place justice. Did I mention they had a HUGE boa snakeskin displayed above the bar? I could have lived without that.

I had to show you this photograph. {and yes, another lighting nightmare} But I roughed it up in photoshop and liked the outcome. I figure with my little ones, when I have a photo op, I take it, then I mess with the settings. If I'm very lucky and they haven't moved by the time I've figured it out then I get a second chance. 9 times out of 10, I don't get another chance.

This is of Landon, our youngest. He just turned 2. After our hike into the park, our first clearing at the end of the trail was stunning. This is what my sweetie did. He looks like he's a 20 year old checking out the surf for his next ride. I love this shot.

It's Rainy Season...

(I'm so sorry that this is out of focus, augh!!!)
This is Wes, Aiden and Paige swimming in the rain, about 8 pm.

April is the hottest month of the year here. It's funny how every time we've ventured here in the past it's been in April. I am happy to report that it does cool down. The phrase here is "What seasons? It's hot and wet or hot and dry." I have found that is not true. I've been experiencing "not as hot" and raining and it's been almost delicious.
In the states I love Mondays, especially rainy Mondays. I have a tradition with the kids. If even the tiniest drop of rain falls, they know that hot chocolate and homemade cookies will be waiting for them when they get home. Thank goodness we lived in California and not Washington. I would have chunky kids then. I enjoy it, but hot cocoa and warm cookies are just not appropriate!

Here in CR the average yearly rainfall is between 120-160 inches. It's hard to imagine until you've been through one of the torrential downpours and you can't believe it doesn't get more inches than that. The best part about the rain is that it usually starts about 3-5:00 pm. By morning it's another splendid day.

When the sky has opened up and it's raining here, I go back to my childhood. I remember the forts my brothers and I used to construct. I can also recall sitting on the floor of our fort through a California rainstorm. We were warm and safe from the elements that were inches away from us. It was a prideful, peaceful feeling. {That only makes sense to me, I know!} That is how it feels here for me. Because of the more simply built homes, you are only inches from the rain. They are loud, and fast but we are protected and it is a prideful, peaceful feeling still.