family · life · through my camera lens

The Point and North Park

Friday we went into the city. The boys and I met Richard at his job and from there we went to an art’s festival by “The Point”. Point State Park is the location of Fort Duquesne which was part of the start of the French Indian War. (I’d have to have Blake do a blog post to tell you more about it) The Point is also the location where three rivers (the Allegheny, Monogahela and the Ohio) converge.

 

The art festival was… ok. But, we had a good time walking around and just being. I was also able to get a few decent pictures of some of the bridges as well as the incline.

Saturday we got up and headed to North Park. The boys took Richard on another trail that they rode with their mountain bike class. This trail travels across the park so I dropped them off and then moved my car. When the finished they wanted to ride more so they took off on a new trail. This trail also ended in a second spot so I moved the car again. I hiked on two new trails for me too. We were all tired when this was done.

 

While I was hiking I came across this little deer having a snack. I decided to stop and watch. While I was there, the boys and Richard actually made it to where I hiked (we were going in opposite directions). We then headed back to the car.

Last night Colby had two friends over for a late birthday sleep over. They had a blast playing video games, watching a movie and we even went out for ice cream. We are all tired today, but it was a fun weekend.

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family · food · life · through my camera lens

Baking and Tile Work… all in two days

Ok I guess I am continuing on the oops I didn’t post mode of late. Friday I went into full baking/cooking mode. I started the day by making homemade vanilla ice cream. I haven’t made ice cream since before started packing to move to PA.

When the ice cream was done, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.P1080247

Then, I realized we didn’t have bread to use to have sandwiches, so I baked a batch of rolls.P1080250

While the cookies were cooling and the bread was rising, I started applesauce in the crock pot to go with the pork tenderloin we were having for dinner.

We then had lunch. After lunch I took the cooled cookies and the homemade ice cream and turned them into ice cream sandwiches. P1080253

Saturday was busy in a different way. We started the day with Richard and I heading to Lowes and the grocery store. We picked up lunch from the grocery store so that we could get to work on the back splash.

This was another long process. We had to go through and make sure that there wasn’t too much mastic between the tiles. This involved using a utility knife to cut out the extra mastic and there are a LOT of seams in this tile work. Then we sealed the tiles for a second time. When the seal was drying we went around and removed the tape and paper we had put up originally and re-protected the marble the best we could while still having the bottom of the tiles available for the grout to get into the seams.

Then we began grouting. This means mixing the grout. Wait 10 minutes. Apply the grout, which takes a while since you have to go over it over and over with the float to make sure you get it into all the groves, there are no air pockets and then make sure you take off enough so that it isn’t a pain to clean up in the next two steps.  Ok now wait 15-30 minutes for the grout to dry.

Next, you take a damp sponge and wipe off the excess grout. This was easy on the glass tiles, but the stone pieces… not so much! Both Richard and I were working on this and our arms were screaming when we finishes.

Then you wait! This time you give it an hour and you wipe everything down again with a clean damp rag.

Today we are going to have to go back and add the matching caulk to the bottom and edge of the tiles. Then we need to put the plates back onto the outlets and switches. We are planning on sealing the granite counters too since the ones under the tile are already empty.

Today, well we don’t yet know what else we are doing today. There is rain in the forecast so that will play a role in whatever plans we make.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend so far!

 

family · life · through my camera lens

A long weekend means working in the house

I can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve picked up my laptop since Saturday, when I wrote my last blog post. We decided to take on the project of putting up the back splash in our kitchen this weekend.

Saturday Colby was at a sleepover. Richard, Blake and I went out for dinner at Burgatory. All three of us got milkshakes as a treat. I had their Fluffer nutter butter Shake (vanilla ice cream, nutter butter cookies, peanut butter and fluff mixed together into a delicious concoction!)

We then headed to Lowes to pick up a few things we needed. I decided to pick up new drawer organizers for my silverware and cooking tool drawers. I love the new bamboo dividers we purchased. (I actually purchased another one on Monday). I now have enough to organize 3 drawers in my kitchen.

We decided to let Blake stay up and watch a movie. Richard suggested Happy Gilmore since Blake keeps talking about wanting to see it, and Colby has shown no interest in it. Blake ended up not feeling well part way through the movie so we never did finish it. Oh well… another time.

Sunday we had already decided to have a quiet morning. It rained over night and was gray and overcast for the beginning of the day. Perfect day for working inside. So Sunday and part of Monday we worked on getting the back splash up. Other than working around the outlets/light switches, it wasn’t too painful.

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We got all the tiles laid out so we could put the sealant on them before putting them up on the wall. Richard set his new wet saw up in the garage and we got to work.

I really like how it is turning out. We did not get around to putting up the grout yet, but all the tile is on the walls now!

The boys are off to school today for their last Tuesday. They have a full day today and tomorrow and a half day on Thursday and then they are off for the summer. It’s been a crazy busy year, but it was all good. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend.

family · life

It’s Saturday

It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. It’s a long weekend.

This means biking in North Park, yard work, and family time. Richard helped Colby make his car for school. Colby needed to make a car to protect an egg in a “car crash”. He made the car out of foam insulation and they worked together to shape it into the car in Colby’s mind-eye.

Tonight Colby is going to a friend’s house for a sleep over. Last year on this day Colby was having his two best friends from FL spend the night over to celebrate his birthday. This was their last hurrah together before our move. Tonight he is going to be at a friend in the neighborhood’s house. They became friends over the course of the school year and while it took time for the friendship to foster, it works now. He misses his Florida friends, but he has found a new group that makes him happy here too.

In 8 days Colby will have his tenth birthday. It’s hard to believe he will be in double digits. I’ll talk more about Colby and his birthday on his birthday post, but I was thinking about it today as the pictures from his sleep over popped up in my Facebook feed.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and are able to get out and enjoy the unofficial start of summer.

family · life

Weekend update- mother’s day edition

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. We were busy this weekend. Saturday found us at North Park on a bike ride. The boys wanted to show Richard the trails they have been riding in bike class. I decided to skip the ride and go for a hike. I went on a few new paths that I hadn’t walked on before. It was a win-win all around. We then went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and stopped at the bike store. Blake needed a new helmet and Richard wanted to look at new bike shoes. We were spent a while outside doing a bit of this and a bit of that as well as chatting with neighbors. We originally planned to go out to dinner, but the skies opened with no sign of letting up, so fend for yourself dinner it is! We decided that since we stayed home we should watch a movie. We decided to watch Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Richard and I have been on a kick of showing the boys movies that Richard and I enjoy, but are still appropriate for tweens.

Sunday morning Colby decided he wanted to make me breakfast in bed. Richard told him that wouldn’t work since there was no way to serve it. So instead Colby opted to make me a strawberry peanut butter smoothie. He tried to bring it up to me, but I was already on my way downstairs. After breakfast, we went off to the gym, DiBellas, and Lowes. We had a long list of things to purchase at Lowes. This did not make the boys happy. We can’t win they don’t want to go if we don’t have a list, now they don’t want to go if we do have a list. Get over if… home ownership means trips to Lowes!

When we got home we started putting down seed on the front and side lawns and then were were going to begin putting the bags of top soil on bare spots. The ground here is rocky, loaded with sticks and it is clay not soil. So we are having to work hard to get this lawn looking the way we want it to look. We will get there. While we were working on putting out the top soil it began to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, but then it picked up. We had to head in and wait it out in the garage. We were already partially done and slightly damp so we decided to wait it out instead of going in to change. We then went out again when it let up only to have the sky open and drench us. Oh well… it got done.

Colby came outside when he finally stopped raining and was observing the run off on the lot next door. He has been learning about water and the effects of it on the landscape. It was neat listening to him discuss the erosion he was observing, the tributaries that were created as well as many other terms he learned in science class. School work at it’s finest!

We had homemade pizza and rolls for dinner. We used the Alton Brown recipe again. It wasn’t as good as the first time we made it, but it was still really good.

The night was ended with Google Hangout calls to both grandmothers to wish them a happy mother’s day.

Hope you had a great weekend.

(Must have Monday is still going to appear today…. just later on today. I didn’t post yesterday so I wanted to share the whos and whats of the weekend)

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Peace Love and Little Donuts review– by Blake

On May 5th, 2018, my mom suggested that my dad and I could go to the Peace, Love and Little Donuts in Wexford, get some donuts, and then I can do a review on it. It was pretty small, and it looked like this:

Image result for peace love and little donuts wexford Pretty interesting, huh? So, my dad and I walked in, and it looked like it opened in the 60’s or 70’s. There were a lot of old band posters dating back to that time, and here are a few of them:

2018-05-05 08.49.19

You can obviously tell that they’re pretty old. The donuts were divided into different sections, with different prices for each type, along with more band posters, as you can see:

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So, as my dad and I were looking around, I noticed something that was really cool:2018-05-05 08.49.25

The one thing that you can’t see, but it was probably their slogan, was: ‘Feed your inner hippie.’

I then decided that I’d get two chocolate chip donuts, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips on that. We got a half dozen donuts, so we got the two chocolate chips, a maple bacon that we got for Colby to try (he didn’t, but my dad did), which is a donut with maple syrup with bacon on top, a chocolate pretzel, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and then two pretzel sticks on top, a cinnamon sugar donut,  which is a cinnamon donut with sugar on it, and a cinnamon donut, which was a cinnamon sugar, just without the sugar. We then paid (and it pretty cheap) and went home. This is what all the donuts looked like:

We all (except Colby) tried one, and they were pretty good. It turns out they were cake donuts, which I’d never tried before. I finished one and had the other one today, May 6th.

All in all, this was a pretty good place. There’s multiple of them, one in Wexford, one in Pittsburgh, and one in Cranberry.

If you’re in a donut mood in Western PA and want to not use a lot from your budget, head on over to this place that I’d definitely go again. You won’t regret feeding your inner hippie.2018-05-05-08-50-04.jpg

 

 

family · life

Cinco de Derby Day

Today was a busy and fun day for our family. We started the day by Richard taking Blake with him to Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Blake is going to write up a review on this as soon as I let him near my computer) and then get gas for the lawnmower.

After breakfast, Richard got the lawnmower going and mowed our lawn here for the first time…. ever! When we lived in Orlando, we mowed the lawn almost all year long. In the spring and fall you mow it once a week, in the summer you need to mow it every 5 days or so and in the winter you can get away with skipping a few weeks depending on the temperatures. Not so much here in Pittsburgh. We will see how often we have to mow as the seasons go on., but at least we know it won’t be all year long.

While Richard did this, I added the baffle to our bird feeder. We now have at least two squirrels fighting over climbing the shepard’s pole to get out our feeders. The boys gave me the baffle shown for my birthday. The nice thing about this baffle is you can attach it to an existing pole without having to take the pole out of the ground. The opening closes up and attaches with a joint closure. I had to adjust the location of our dish feeder. The recommend that when you have a baffle it is located 4-5 feet off the ground.

When I finished this I began fertilizing the yard. We try to fertilize our lawn about once a month. This helps the lawn’s growth and coloring. I need to pick up some more seed so we can add soil and seed to the balder spots in the lawn. But, at least it is coming along.

After that, Colby and I helped Richard install the wire shelves above his work bench. This was a big task, but so worth it because we were able to get more garage thing emptied out of the boxes and put up on these shelves.

After putting up the shelves we had lunch. I had the last of the Thanksgiving salad, I need to make a pasta salad or something next. I like having a simple go to healthy lunch to have around.

The boys took off on their bikes to find friends and Richard and I decided to work on the back of our property. We began by trying to cut back some of the thorn bushes and vines. After getting cut to shreds doing this we decided to change gears and work on cutting a path through the backyard to get to the path to the pond. We completed this task just before the boys returned home.

We then worked on cleaning up the garage and putting things on the shelves while the boys drove their Traxxas trucks. They love driving them on the lot next door and even created a ramp in the muck to jump the trucks. They won’t be able to drive it there much longer since they should start framing that house here soon.

Dinner tonight was chicken salsa over couscous with homemade pico de gallo. We watched the Kentucky Derby and then played a few rounds of Uno Hearts.

Wow that was a busy day, but productive and fun. Hope you enjoyed your Cinco de Derby day.

family · food · reviews

Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough

The week of Alton continues with tonight’s edition… pizza! I made a batch of Alton Brown’s pizza dough from his book Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, are you motivated to buy this cookbook yet? (Did you see my post about his fish sticks that I made on Friday? No?!? Click here and check it out)

I did not make any changes to this recipe, so you can find it here on Alton’s site. I did measure everything out with my kitchen scale. I made it in the bread machine instead of in the stand mixer, I just have better luck with dough this way.

You need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough needs to rise in the fridge 18-24 hours. You take the dough out 30 minute before making your pizza product. Alton suggests cutting the dough into three. We used this to make three different products. We made a grilled pepperoni pizza, a baked two cheese stromboli and garlic butter rolls.

pizza1To make the rolls, I cut the dough into bite size pieces and then rolls them around into a ball shape. I put cornmeal on the counter while I worked as well as on the baking sheet to add extra crunch and prevent sticking. I baked these in a 450 oven for 17 minutes. While they baked I heated EVOO and microplanned 3 cloves of garlic into the oil. When the garlic just began to brown, I added 1/2 stick of butter and let this melt. When it was melted, I brushed it on top of the rolls. (These rolls were my favorite part of the meal.. .just saying!)pizza3

Richard made the pizza and stromboli. For the pizza, he grills both sides of the dough on screaming hot grill. When they are starting to brown on both sides, he brings it in and tops it with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Then it goes back on the grill to crisp up and melt the cheese. The grill wasn’t as hot as we like it so the crust wasn’t as crunchy this time.

pizza2The dough for the stromboli gets stretched and tossed the same way the pizza dough does. He then lays it onto a cookie sheet and puts the toppings on one half of the dough. This time it was mozzarella and provolone cheese. (We never put sauce in our stromboli because it seems to make the crust mushy.) Then you fold the un-filled part of the dough over the filled and roll the edges together to crimp them. You also need to cut in vent holes to let the steam out. This gets baked for 20-25 min in a 350 oven. We have decided that next time we will make it in a hotter oven for less time since the rolls came out really crispy and yummy.

I will be making this pizza dough again!

A few things we learned:

  • Make sure you put the dough in a large enough bowl over night, ours was over the top and down the sides in the morning
  • These rolls were so worth it and I’ll make them again, but make sure they are closer in size, the bigger ones were good (by big I mean doughnut hole size instead of walnut size)
  • Possible additions/alterations to the rolls
    • put fresh mozzarella in the middle
    • put cheddar cheese in the middle and serve with soup or chili
  • The garlic butter needed more garlic and maybe a pinch or two of salt
  • Go for a hotter oven/grill and shorter cook time.
family · life · through my camera lens

Spring Weekend

This weekend found us with nicer weather, so that meant we were outside. The boys and I went out after they got home from school on Friday. They rode to the park and brought a basketball and soccer ball to play on the court and field down there. I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked about 1.5 miles.

We just realized that that bug protection we had been applying to Dixie didn’t cover ticks. Great!! We have already pulled 4 off her. It’s not easy to find them since she has very dense fur in some spots, plus most of her fur is black. We have given her the flea and tick stuff the vet told us to try at her last appointment. Hopefully this works, last thing we need is for her getting ticks on a regular basis.

The tick find on Dixie spurred me to get out and treat the backyard. We sprayed the area she has access to as well as the perimeter of the woods of our yard with the insecticide spray and then put granular over the rest of the yard. That was my task Saturday morning before we left for the gym.

This was the boys last week of little lifters. They really enjoyed this program. It would be nice to see my places provide this type of training to kids their age. The program was for kids 8-13. This is the prefect age to introduce correct use of gym equipment that they can use independently. They aren’t ready to get out and use the circuit training or free weights yet, but they can use a step bench, resistance bands, light weights, a medicine ball and many other equipment. Colby is very excited to create his own workout for next weekend and keep working on getting stronger.

We headed to DiBella’s and Lowes. We needed an extension rod for the new fan we purchased at Costco for the morning room. We also picked up rollers so we could paint the garage. Over the last few trips we have been picking up their discounted paints. We were getting gallons of paint for $9. It is a great way to get paint if you don’t really care about the color.

So Saturday we painted the garage. We mixed together a quart of navy blue, a gallon of purple, a gallon of sage and a gallon of a light blue. The color ended up sort of a cornflower blue. It works. Richard also took the cans of white and painted the ceiling in the back section of the garage. We still have 3 cans of different shades of green and may mix them together to paint the basement since we were already talking about painting it green. That is still in the lets think about this stage.

Today we got up and headed to North Park. All three guys took their bikes. I’m’ still nursing my hip and knee so I decided to just walk. The boys rode the paved path to the pump park where I caught up with them. I ended up walking about 1.5 miles again. I was glad to see the distance here because soon the boys will be taking mountain biking lessons here and I’ll walk while they are at their lesson  Richard rode his bike on the actual bike trails.

When we were leaving, we ended up stopping to watch an auto cross in the pool parking lot. There were just regular cars, or regular-ish cars, racing around a cone course. The boys enjoyed this. I liked that I captured a few good photos of them up close. 

What a great way to get out and enjoy the fact that we are finally seeing spring temperatures and the sun!

Hope it is nice in your part of the world and that you had a great weekend.

 

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Pizza in pieces?

A few times in the past I’ve tried to make homemade pizza dough. I never seemed to be able to get it to come out the correct consistency. Well, since I’ve decided that I make dough best in the bread machine we decided to try making pizza dough again.

When the machine signaled that it was done I questioned the consistency again. It was really sticky and seemed off. But, we continued with the directions on the recipe to see where it would go from there.

dinner6Richard is the pizza maker in the house. When the dough was done with it’s final rise, he took over working with the dough. Richard decided to make grilled pizza instead of the stromboli we had planned due to the way the dough was rolling out. It was really thin in the middle and started to tear. He then went and put the pizza on the grill. This was sort of an epic fail. It cooked… well there were grill marks and the middle was done. The edges were still super doughy. Plus it came off in pieces.

We decided to trudge forward with the making of the meal. Richard topped the dough dinner5with sauce and added cheese. We decided to forego the meatball topping and just heat it up in a dish to add when done. We also didn’t season it up as much as we normally season our pizza.

When he pulled the pizza pieces off the grill it started to look a lot better. It actually tasted like decent pizza crust. A few thing we noticed: 1. we didn’t have cornmeal which we usually use, which helps slide the dough on and off the pizza peal. 2. the dough probably needed to chill after the last rise, it was slightly warmer than it should be which would have contributed to the tearing 3. the dough would have been easier to manipulate in two smaller dough balls instead of one large ball.

dinner4

We will certainly try again. I have 2 more recipes I want to try. One from Alton Brown, but that one calls for 18-24 hr in the fridge which we didn’t have this time. The other is on the package of pizza yeast, what better recipe to try? This is the recipe I made this time from Genius Kitchen.

Have you made homemade pizza dough? Any hints? Got a recipe you think I should try? Hmmm maybe we will have to try again next weekend. We will see.