Monday, May 25, 2015

Recipe: High Altitude Pumpkin Bread

I have one freezer out in the garage that is entirely dedicated to fruits and vegetables to be used in future baking projects.

Until the power goes out and we don't realize it for 24 hours, in which case - the future is now!

I lost the top shelves - bananas, shredded zucchini, pears (organic! sob), and the bottom shelves (corn, pumpkin) were still mostly frozen, but I still had a large plastic tub full of things that something needed to happen to quickly. Refreezing is an option, but that starts to do bad things to texture, and I wanted to bring some treats to work anyway...

There was one bag of pumpkin chunks on a different shelf that had completely thawed. I love pumpkin bread, but any kind of bread at our altitude (almost 7,000 feet) can be tricky. I have been fiddling with recipes, and this one turned out pretty well, so I wanted to pass it along!

(Feel free to halve - I measured this to match the amount of pumpkin I had to use)

In one LARGE bowl, mix:
4 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups applesauce
8 eggs
4 cups smooshed pumpkin

In another LARGE bowl, sift together:
7 cups of flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves

I never used to bother with sifting, but it really makes a difference at this altitude. Plus, you don't have to worry about biting into a clump of baking soda that made it past you - blech! You also want to stir the wet dough as little as possible, to keep it from getting gluey, so it helps to start with all the dry ingredients already well-mixed.

Add the first bowl to the second, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Again, you don't want glue! Optional: When it was mostly mixed, I put half of it back into the first bowl, and finished stirring with a bag of chocolate chips in one batch, and raisins in the other. You could also add your favorite nuts.

Preheat oven to 350 while you drop the mixture into muffin tins or little bread pans (on top of cookie sheets, in case of overflow). I filled these about halfway, and baked until the good old toothpick came away clean:


Take a moment to admire the lovely paper plate. Nothing but the most sophisticated tableware, here.
Now, about those frozen, grilled peaches...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

We have a pretty cool Daddy, and today he He told us he wanted to go on a picnic for his birthday, so off we went this morning! It being Memorial Day weekend, we thought we would have to search for a spot, but our favorite one just up the road was open (to all those people who drove by slowly while we were there - sorry! Hope you found a spot!)

Mostly the kids alternated between eating and running around, which is a great way to spend a day!

The dogs had fun running around, too.

Well, mostly Emily wanted to chill, but Kela had other ideas.

Where are you going? I thought we were wrestling!
 Daddy had the same idea as Emily.

Whereas Shane mostly wanted the food.

Emily finally got away from the youngster!

Sheridan kept running off with the goldfish crackers...

So, Shane made sure she couldn't any more.

This is literally just around the corner from our house, but different trees are always much more interesting.

Still has the goldfish crackers.

Forest dance party!

 Shane was standing here for the longest time, mesmerized.

Then he started reaching out into the air.

When I got closer, I realized there were a bajillion butterflies all around the campfire.

Mostly there were tiny blue ones, but I could not get a decent picture of them to save my life. Plenty of these, though (and one giant yellow one that almost landed on Sheridan a couple times!)

And he didn't try to eat a single one!

And, that's a great Daddy for you - planning something fun for the kids for his own special day. Happy Birthday again, we love you!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Reading 2015 - The Final Countdown

Tomorrow is the day! The last day of school (less than an hour long, so most kids just don't go), and the first day of registration for Summer Reading! Some things we have been getting ready for months, others can't be done until the last minute. 

I put together 200 copies of the participant packets a couple weeks ago.

And then today I changed the date of one of the activities. I've fixed about half of them...the problem with doing something monotonous, like scribbling out a date, is that your mind keeps jumping to other things you need to do...

like, take down the art table, and turn it into the registration table.

Then, of course, you feel bad that you had to take down the art table, 

so you set up a community art project in another corner.

Displays are up:

Bottles have pictures of raffle prizes -
kids will put their tickets in the bottle for the prize they want to win.

Don't forget the sponsor wall!
Raffle prizes - some of which were just purchased today!

T-shirts are sorted, folded, and organized neatly:

The rest of the closet...not so much.

Emma is hiding.

She is hoping I won't notice that her tank walls really need to be cleaned.

Treasure box is full, even though we don't start giving out prizes until June 8.

More prizes waiting in the wings...

Hello, Mr. Green!

Craft materials ready and books selected.

Glue bottles filled and cleaned, markers checked and distributed evenly by color (that will last for approximately one story time).


...and drinks ready for the teens and tweens! 

(And, thank-you, Space City Sertoma, for the gift card, so I can add fresh fruits and veggies all summer!)

I even pulled appliances out and cleaned behind them, so everything will start out fresh! (Again, that will last for approximately one story time).

Ooh - I need to pull books to display alongside the visiting archaeological exhibit that is coming tomorrow only. And set up the superhero ID card station that is also tomorrow only. Back to work! See you all manana!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New at the Library: Part 3

These books made their way straight to my house as soon as they were cataloged - but they will be on the shelves soon!

If You Plant a Seed

Okay, Kadir Nelson, so - automatically you know the pictures will be swoon-worthy. Once you tear your eyes away from the illustrations, you'll enjoy the simple, sweet text, which reminds children (and their adults) that we can sow and nurture kindness or selfishness just as easily as vegetables.

Ninja Red Riding Hood

Some of the terminology (i.e. katas, gi) was a little over my kids' heads, but they enjoyed the wolf and Red's head-to-head battle, as well as Gran's appearance, and the rhythm made it a fun one to read out loud.

Dirty Gert

Loved this one, especially the parents' attitudes and the resolution. Another with a fun, easy rhyme, this will definitely be appearing in a story time. The kids especially liked the commentary from the worms!

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story

Christopher in particular thought this one was hysterical. Poor Louie, this is HIS story, and people aren't treating it very well! He's going to end up in the bottom of a box at a yard sale, completely unwanted...

Bad Dog Flash

New puppy in the house. Need I say more?

Oh No, Little Dragon!

Shane grabbed this one off the stack at my desk as soon as he saw it, so I had to bring it home! Poor little dragon (isn't he adorable?) has lost his fire, and nothing he does seems to bring it back. Mom to the rescue, of course!

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

Another one for Christopher to giggle at like a crazy person. Hoot Owl's disguises don't work quite as well as planned, but he never loses heart!

The Odd One Out

The kids all enjoyed this one, taking turns finding the odd one out. The one page we all had trouble with - the pandas with the bamboo sticks - Shane wandered over and picked out right away! That child...

Very Little Red Riding Hood

Love it! Poor Wolf again - it's hard to be big and bad when a toddler is giving you big hugs and insisting that you chase her. This Little Red is more than a match for both Wolf and Grandma!

Hug Machine

This final one tickled all the kids, who are great little huggers themselves. I have the feeling our next walk will take a whole lot longer than usual.