4/22 What we've been up to...

I'm busy busy busy and I've got the pictures to prove it! I've got several personal goals I'm working very hard towards. Leo keeps me on my toes no matter what, but now he's got a motorcycle that he practically wants to sleep on. My in-laws are still in town, but are planning on bailing out in about a week. Leo and I took a trip down to Dallas to do my niece's hair and make-up for prom and had a blast! Leo had so much fun playing with my sister, Trish, and Aussie, the dog, was instant buddies with him as well:) I had the opportunity to talk shop with my niece's dad who's a professional photographer and it looks like that opened some fantastic opportunities too!! (you can check out some of his fabulous portfolio at http://rrpictures.com/) We didn't get back until Monday evening and Tuesday and Wednesday were spent unwinding, getting things done around the house and editing photos (my latest addiction). I always say I'll be back on track with this blog when I slow down, but honestly I can't complain about being busy. My busy life is full of blessings! Enjoy the pix and talk to ya sooner than later;)
P.S.-scroll down for an updated Mangiare Monday!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Trip to Dallas
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Leo on his Cycle!!
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

4/22 Mangiare Monday 'make-up'...what to bring to brunch?

Recently, it was my groups turn to provide brunch for all the ladies at MOPS meeting. My contribution was simple and last minute (as usual) I think we make it harder on ourselves than we need to when it comes to deciding what to bring to something like this or even what to serve in our own homes. Avoiding the ruts or your 'same ol' recipes is the first rule to making these decisions easier. If you run down a list of things you always make, they'll never sound exciting. However, deciding to replace one ingredient with something new or even more simply, just displaying the food in a different way can make it seem like something different and wonderful!
I didn't have a lot of time, so I picked an easy combination of foods and an old standard recipe.

If your going to take cut apples, make sure to cut them last minute or toss them in a bit of lemon juice so they won't turn brown. Strawberries should be cut if they are too large to eat in one bite.

I cheated a bit and went to Starbucks and bought a box of their classic coffee cake and sliced it into small slices. Delicious, trust me!
I mixed a regular jar of marshmallow cream with a regular size cream cheese and a bit of almond extract and voila!! So simple and EVERYONE loves it.
Take the time to place things nicely and use fun dishes instead of tupperware. Take things that will taste good even if they've cooled or sat for a little while. Don't take things that will wilt like waffles or french toast, etc. People are attracted to foods with color. Fresh foods and healthful foods are best, but people like to indulge so something slightly 'naughty' (like the coffee cake) keeps a smile on their faces too.
Hmmm...now I'm thinking about Starbucks...gotta go!! ;)


a peek at our trip to the circus...

The Shriner's Hospitals are wonderful, beautiful places where many children and their families are able to receive the care they need and deserve. Check out the link
to learn more about what they do and how you can help or donate.
...then take a peek at the slideshow below!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Shriner's Circus!
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create a free photo slideshow


4/14 Video Vednesday...annoying commercials, 81 year old men & uni-sex bathrooms?!?!

I've been gone for a while and have a lot to say!! So sit back, relax & watch out;)


Where in the world is Tamara Dawn?

Well, since I never could figure out how to fit more hours into a day, I had to steal some 'Video Vednesday time' from yesterday and devote it to a self-taught lesson in web design! My photography website is now looking decent after much time spent banging my head against the computer...I'm still seeing little white boxes when I blink!! ;) I also have a family function this weekend, a three day community garage sale to prepare for, a little boy to get ready and packed for a trip with his grandparents...oh! and marathon to walk in on Saturday for a fundraiser:) Busy times, but I'll have interesting pictures to post and topics to talk about soon enough. For now, enjoy these 'Photo-Ops' I've been snapping
and of course check out my website @ http://www.newdawnphotobytamara.com/


Two posts today!!

scroll down after the Norm's Perfect Apple Pie for a slideshow of our Easter 2010...

4/5 Mangiare Monday...Norm's Perfect Apple Pie!

Paul's mom makes the BEST apple pie ever! So, this Saturday before Easter, I asked her to teach me how. She guided me through the steps and it was actually easier than I thought and a lot of fun:) Thanks, Norm!
First, peel 3 lbs of tart apples (like Granny Smith)
then slice them no thicker than 1/4 inch.
In a large bowl mix:
2-3 T cinnamon
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
Set that aside and start on your crust.

2 cups flour
1 t salt
1 cup lard
(shortening works, but lard makes a flakier crust)
Blend with a fork until it starts to lump and then add 1/2 cup milk
and blend with your hands JUST until ingredients have
meshed together. (this is the key to a flaky crust...not 'over-working' it)

This (above) is basically what it should look like before you divide
it in half to make a top and a bottom crust.

Roll out each half to be larger than the pie pan.
See how the bottom crust is hanging over...

Pour in your apple mixture...

Fold your top crust in half and use a knife to make little
cuts along the crease to vent while cooking...

Place the folded crust over half of the pie and unfold.
Pinch the two crusts together all the way around
and cut excess dough off with a butter knife.

Cover the crusts with tin foil and bake @ 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove crust foils and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes
or until apples are soft when you poke with a knife.

Let cool and serve it up!

Delicious!! Everyone loved it and since I made two,
I have some left over to enjoy today;)
It's not a sweet crust, so it works equally as well
for quiche or pot pie, trust me!!

Happy Easter!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Easter 2010
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox


4/2 FOX Friday...Anti-gay protesting at military funerals???????

Infuriated is all I can seem to be at a story like this. Listen folks, I'm not talking about whether being gay is right or wrong. This story is about our troops and their families. What I want to make clear that I DO think is wrong is the disgusting, distasteful and disrespectful protests led by Fred Phelps at military funerals. I'm absolutely ashamed to say he is a Baptist preacher, of all things! Somebody who's supposed to represent Christians, but leads rallies full of hate?
First of all, he and the crowd who follow him don't even protest at these funerals because of specific issues with the soldiers themselves. What I mean is, it would be a slightly different story if the soldiers were gay. Not acceptable, just slightly more comprehensible. THEY AREN'T!! These soldiers and their families and friends are paying, on 'America's behalf', for being a country that accepts homosexuality. We're apparently 'damned' because of it and in turn are directly responsible for the soldiers deaths....according to Phelps. These soldiers who have given their lives to our country so that people like Fred Phelps can completely disgrace and ruin their funerals and horrify and humiliate their families on their day of grieving and get away with it, because those soldiers protected their first amendment right to do so. Because of our military we have the right to speak and be heard. Unfortunately because of ignorance, what some of us have to say is not worth hearing.
I believe in God, I call myself a Christian and it saddens me that there are people basing their opinions of my religion on these displays and protests. Disrespecting somebody's funeral in such a disgusting manor is in no way acceptable, according to MY Bible and it certainly wouldn't seem appealing to any non-believers! Take your issues somewhere beneficial, take them to your government in a civilized way. Be proactive and present yourself with a kind, compassionate attitude. I've always found that by treating everybody the same, regardless of 'who' or 'what' they are, you can better achieve the kind of results you want.
What Fred Phelps does is repulsive and inexcusable. Enough said.


4/1 a poem...

Ode To Brown Chicken
Down to New Mexico we went
with absolutely no intent
of bringing home two baby chicks,
but when Leo asked I couldn't resist!

Everyone insisted they wouldn't last a week
so every morning with a lump in my throat, I'd go out and take a peek...
but there they were with the rabbits, growing bigger day by day
and never getting bored with Leo there to play.

Lovingly we named them White Chicken and Brown Chicken
and here we were with two more animals and mouths to feed again.
Friends, family and professionals said they'd never earn their keep,
but it wasn't long at all til we had at least 14 eggs a week!!

On a sunny spring day she ate and played
and one beautiful shade of brown egg she laid
Then she gave me a cluck, seeming fine before we left
and while we ran our errands, she laid down and took her last breath.

Apparently this is more than normal in the world of roosters and hens,
but now we had to tell Leo that he'd lost his friend.
The saddest part is with her sister never coming home
now miss White Chicken stands all alone.

She was a good chicken and laid beautiful, tasty eggs. She had plenty of sun/shade and food/water and seemed completely normal right up until she was already gone! Shocked, we found ourselves online researching what the heck happened and came to discover that this is NORMAL?! Crazy. Chickens are all but famous for dropping dead with no warning or reason and there's nothing that can prevent it. Autopsy's have been done with inconclusive results. If you've had this happen to your chickens, check out this site with tons of other people with the same crazy stories.

We loved your eggs and will miss you, Brown Chicken!