Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New York to Kirtland Church history trip.

So we drove to Niagra Falls and then headed for Palmyra New York. As we prepared for this trip I tried looking up info of things to do and places to stay along the drive and length of driving and didn't ever really find anything helpful. Hopefully, if you are planning a trip like this then some of this will help you.
When you leave the American Side of Niagra Falls prepare for about 2 hours in the car. Be sure to stop in Pittsford, New York. It is right on the way to Palmyra (about 20 minutes to go) and you will be in store for a heavenly reward. Stop at the Pittsford Dairy on main street. They have amazing sweets and homemade icecream (and it really does taste better if that was possible) and get some chocolate milk.
 Then you have just a short drive to Palmyra. If you are ready for dinner stop at the Yellow Mills diner right on the main road just before town. It is a mom and pop shop and worth the visit.
 We started our day by heading straight to he morning sunshine in the Sacred Grove. There was a big tour inside so they asked us to start at the Sacred Grove. It was peaceful and not crowded and I loved every single minute of it.

 This is the view at the end of the loop in the Sacred Grove. There is also a bathroom here (if that applies to you like it did to us and our little bladders)
 So when we got back we did the missionary tour of the smith home and farm. After the tour they give the guests an opportunity to now wander through the Sacred Grove. We avoided the crowds by doing it  the way we did, but it would have been kind of a nice succession of events to go through the Grove after all the inspirational stories and spiritual preparation. The sister missionaries were so amazing.
 If you can arrange a way to do a temple session in the unique temple. It is set on the original Smith property. It overlooks this gorgeous wooded field and the stained glass windows were one of a kind.
 Later that day after some resting. We heading to the Palmyra Visitors center which is further down the road. It is a typical VC for the church but the missionaries there prep you for seeing the Hill Cumorah and you can listen to the Christus Statue before you head out.
 We opted to walk up the switch backs to the site. You can drive but don't it you are remotely healthy and can push your little ones in a stroller. Out little "big" ones loved running up the hills.
 Words can't explain the events that happened here but the majesty of the monument and stunning beauty of the site and the views is rewarding.
 Then we headed to the Grandin Printing Press. I think this tour was one of the coolest. Again, you get a sister missionary to give you an informative tour. The kids and the adults found the whole printing process and divine help around publishing the book of mormon remarkable.
There is a candy store about 3 shops down but it closes around 5. We were disappointed in that. The Grandin Building stays open until 7 so you could go eat before if you needed a break. We ended up walking down the road to Nima's Pizza and ordered a whole pizza. During the 20 minutes wait we walked up the street about a block and on your right hand side there is a fun park set of the main road. It kept us all happily entered so we weren't drooling over upcoming pizza.
 If you are in to bed and breakfasts try the Liberty House. We were the only guests. They had two extra rooms but the owner doesn't usually rent those out if you have kids so they don't bother anyone. How nice. We had the place to ourselves. I will forever remember the taste of the homemade chocolate muffins, banana muffins, and fresh apple pancakes. She even had a whole bucket of action figures she brought out for our little guy to play with.

 As you leave Palmyra stop at the Grandview Farm. They let you feed the chickens and the bunnies. and you can pick fresh apples right off the road for a bargain. We would have bought cider if we had cash. No credit cards accepted.
 And then...if you're like us, you go back through Pittsford and buy some more icecream and rolls for the car to put your 5 day old, but still going, ham and cheese on.
 The drive to Kirtland is about 5 hours. Look at an atlas and find Prescue Isle. It is in Erie, Pennsylvania. It was about 3.5 hours from Palmyra. Just in time for the kids to need a break. It was only about 15 miles out of our way but sooooooo worth it. It could have been the kids favorite day. If you don't want to drive the 17 mile loop than look to the left and there are several break offs where you can go over to the beach side of the loop. That's what we did.

 Kirtland. People had told me touring the Kirtland sites doesn't take all day and they were right. We arrived at the VC and they told us the movie and tour would take about 1.5 hours and it pretty much did. I loved the significance of the Whitney family and store in our church history. Our kids were getting pretty tired so we left for lunch, but I would have seen the stone quarry if there had been more patience. we skipped the Johnson farm due to more car time but it would have been nice.
 We chose not to do a tour of the Community of Christ owned original LDS temple. However, siince we have been home many people have told us the tour was really cool/spiritual/ and worth the time and money.
 We ate at a place called the wrap shack about 1 mile from the temple. It was cheap but nothing to rave about it. It got the job done.
 Continue on your drive and head to Penitentiary Glen. It is run by the metro parks. They have a nature center with the only Albino Deer i've ever seen, and many other animals. Then they have a little center for rehabilitating animals. This little squirrel was one of the residents. Isn't he cute.
 We also drove to Squire's Castle. If you have the time it was pretty cool. Just a huge abandoned (one level) castle with enormous green space and hiking trails behind. It was about 10 minutes from the Glen.
 And if you are heading back west then stop in Cleveland at the original Christmas Story house. Do you recognize our costumes??? It was totally touristy but so fun for a family who loves that movie. we even bought several Christmas gifts in their gift shop for pretty cheap.

Comment me if you need any other ideas or advice.

Niagra Falls tips with kids.

We drove to Niagra Falls. The kids LOVED it and so did we. Here are some hints I find might be helpful when you go.
1. Everyone told us to stay on the Canada side. True, the view was prettier from this side because you could see the magnificence of both the Canadian Horshoe Falls and the American Falls. People also told us that there was so much more to do on this side. True, again, if you are interested in all things Ripley believe it or not and wax museums and lots of souvenier shops and mini golf. Not our style, so it didn't matter that we stayed on the Canadian side. Also, Canada has a 16% tax people! And..we ate at Outback Steak House and the average meal was about $10 more than where we are from.
2. Crossing the border took all of 5 minutes...not a big deal. The kids only required birth certificates.

 Take the 1 mile walk along the edge of the falls from the Canada side. Stunning. There are several $5 lots up the hill from the main falls blvd. Don't park at the Police station loop. You have to pay $5 for 30 minutes. So we ended up paying $10. As we drove away we even saw a $1 lot at the top of Murray st. We were eager to see the falls and didn't explore our options but explore...there were lots of cheaper parking options.
 3.The next morning we hit the IMAX show on the canada side. Buy tickets online. You will save a substantial amount. Also, if you park in the lot that tells you to pay in the green boxes, pay you will. We parked over to the right on the IMAX theater and went in and asked where we should pay and the lady told us no one ever checked that lot and we could park for free. It was a matter of 10 parking spots away from the paid spots so it's helpful advice.
 We crossed the border the next morning and parked at Niagra State Park. We opted not to do the maid of the mist but you could board from this side. We decided to pay $1 and head out on the over look.
 This is a view from the overlook.
 Then you could take the elevator down to where the Maid of the Mist boards and you get these views.
4. grab yourself one of the recycled blue water breakers you see at the top of the elevator to protect yourself from the water. We didn't and as a result. All the kids and dad got soaked, but now me!! I was getting set to take their picture. It was so funny/ kind of sad to see them drenched.
 He recovered pretty quickly and now they have a tale to tell.
 And if you're like me and like the explanatory photo for you scrap book then this is on the American side as well.
Enjoy Niagra.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

S'mores cake

 I LOVE s'mores... ALL THINGS S'MORES! I've tried bars, cookies, cupcakes, and of course the real thing. But why not try a cake!
So this is what I came up with for a friend's birthday.
 And it was a crowd pleaser cake. You know the one's that people go "eww...and ahhhh" over. It looked stunning on the cake stand. And then when you cut into it...forget it! All bets off. This cake asks for a glass of milk and a second piece.
So, make a yellow boxed cake in 9" pans (2 of them)
While the cake is cooking, mix up your favorite brownie batter. The fudgier the better.
When the cake comes out and cools, turn it out on a cooling rack and then put the brownies in one of the 9" rounds.
As the brownies cook, crush one package of grahams and add butter and a little sugar till it is holding together. Now you have to wait. The waiting is the hardest part.
I found that taking the brownie out of the round pan was tricky so I just sort of molded the brownie back together on the bottom yellow cake. But before that you need to add a layer of marshmallow creme with a little buttercream icing to make it easier to spread. Beware..super sweet layer!
Then add the brownie layer, then mold the graham layer ontop of that. Then another marshmallow creme layer then the top layer.
My marshmallow creme layer was to runny, hence the drip off. It would be pretty if it was thicker, also. I kind of liked how you were able to see the layers though. Let 'em know what they're getting into, right?

Friday, July 5, 2013

sweet potato puree waffles

Basically, a healthier version of a classic.
We love breakfast for dinner. I feel like with my 3rd child, who eats nothing, that when she eats something I gotta make it count. So, we needed a breakfast for dinner/ nutritious something...and here it is adapted from several others I found on the net.
These are so good and you can't taste the "health" in them at all. My new favorite for all times of the day.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2-3/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/2 c skim milk
3/4 cup pureed veggies. (I used 3 sweet potatoes and 2 carrots, it was just about 3/4 cup)
3 T. oil
1 T. orange juice concentrate or 1 tsp. rind. (I don't love rind in things so I did concentrate)
*3 splenda packets (optional)

1. mix the dry ingredients
2. mix the wet
3. combine with wet with the dry.

Cook on a hot waffle iron sprayed with Pam.
Serve with homemade maple syrup.

3 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
Bring all to a boil.
Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add 1 tsp. maple and 1 tsp. vanilla

This is a sugar less version of traditional maple syrup and my family loves it and doesn't miss all the sugar of the regular.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Photo ideas and color coordinating

 I love taking pictures and I really love taking pictures of my cute kids.
Here are some tips and ideas.
1. Coordinate but don't matchy match.
This photo shoot was based on the outfit Miss Blue was wearing.
Next, we went to a local park. I got the kids out and set them a ways from me and then I just told them to walk toward me and I click click clicked. The whole photo session took about 5 minutes. They all turned out so spontaneous and cute.

 2. It's okay to crop a little of a person out of the picture if it means you get a cute picture.
3. And...embrace the railroad tracks as long as you can park your van on the tracks and there is no danger of an approaching train. Like there will never be a train that day.

 4. I love telling my kids to kiss each other, but save this method for the end of the photo shoot, otherwise they will be only into kissing each other and being silly and you're done.
 A couple different Christmas ideas.
And above all else. Take lots of pictures, often, and you will get some good ones.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hard-boiled egg leftovers

 So, this recipe is really really easy and really really good.
This recipe fit in one pie plate and basically was divided into 4. It was all healthy like that.
First, you cut a 2 or 3 potatoes in thin slices. Steam them in a little bit of water in a sautee pan with the lid on for just a few minutes. Enough to soften them up.
Take the lid off and let the water evaporate and add butter to fry them up just a bit.
Now layer the bottom of your pie plate with a good layer of potatoes (about 1/2 of what you made)
Fry up some bacon (I used 7 slices of center cut bacon cuz I feel better about myself using the center cut and it's less fatty)
Cut up the bacon and layer it.
Cut 4 hardboiled eggs in thin slices.
Add a nice layer of cheese. I'd say about 1 cup.
In your fry pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter, add a little flour and about 1/2 cup milk and cook till thick and the flour taste cooks out. Add some salt and pep to taste.
Pour this over the layers and the top with the rest of your potatoes and drizzle with the amount of butter you feel good about.
Good for 20 minutes.
It has that yummy hardboiled egg yolk texture but all the other goodness. Try this!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rapunzel cake

Every year she chooses her birthday cake about 360 days before her birthday! So, i had been anticipating the Rapuzel cake for quite sometime. I knew I wanted the cake to be all about the hair. I googled a  "rapunzel" image in black and white and this is the one I fell in love with. I loved that her buddy "paskal" was on her shoulder. A couple days before i began laying out the foundation for the cake in my mind. The head is an 8 inch round, the hair is half a cake mix in a 9x13 pan (so it was thin) the body was half a square pan (so it was the same width as the hair) Her chameleon friends is a cupcake split in half and just shifted to the right to give the illusion of a head and body. Then you can see I kindof used leftover cake pieces to construct the hair so that it fell nicely to match with the 9x13 cake.
I was pretty hesitant at painting the face. I'm artistic, but it's still risky to paint with frosting. I think it turned out okay. It's no disney scetch artist but my little 6 year old (and husband) were very impressed. And the cake was delicious which is always hit or miss with these.

CTR bag and some shirts

 I sewed this bag out of a black shirt. It made such a nice finished top and hem. The handle was also made from the hem. I just cut really close an didn't have to sew a thing except to the sides of the bag. The ctr was just hand drawn and painted on with green paint.