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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best. Homemade. Ice. Cream. Ever. (just ask my husband)

Last weekend Matt bought me something I have been wanting for a very long time... an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. (We love homemade ice cream in the Slaughter house.) I was so excited, and then... he says the words, "on one condition." Of course, he did.

And the "one condition" was ridiculous. He wanted me to make him praline ice cream with caramel 'ribbons' like he used to have at Baskin Robbins when he was a kid. What?! Impossible. I searched online for recipes, but came up with nothing, and I mean nothing! So... I did what anyone would do. I came up with my own recipe, piecing together aspects I like from several different places. Starting with the Pioneer Woman.

She has an AMAZING caramel recipe that you can find here.

And next, a praline recipe. I was looking for good, but simple and found it here.

As for the basic ice cream recipe, again, I wanted SIMPLE, and found a good one I've used before here.

Ok, prepare yourself because this next picture will take your breath away...

Y'all, I'm just gonna tell you the truth, it was sort of a pain to make, but I had one extremely happy husband. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. If you're a pralines and cream fan, it is worth the trouble. Wow.

Caramel Sauce
4 T butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c half and half
pinch of salt

Mix butter, brown sugar, half and half, and salt in a saucepan over medium to low heat. Cook while whisking 5-7 minutes until thicker. Add vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off heat and pour into jar or bowl and store in fridge or freezer until very cold.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, 2 c of white sugar, 1 c packed brown sugar, 3/4 c evaporated milk or half and half. Bring to boil, stirring only to prevent sticking. When mixture begins to boil, add 2 cups chopped pecans, 2 T butter, 1/4 t salt. When mixture reaches soft ball stage, or about 236 degrees, remove from heat and let stand 4 minutes. After the 4 minutes, stir in 2 t vanilla and begin beating with wooden spoon for about 2 minutes until mixture thickens. As soon as it thickens, spoon onto buttered foil or wax paper lined cooking sheet. Spread out as best you can... (you'll be breaking it apart later). Set in fridge to cool.

Ice cream
Whisk together 4 cups half and half, 1 can Eagle Brand,
and 2 t vanilla and add to ice cream mixer.
(Just FYI: if you have an easy, quick vanilla ice cream recipe
that is tried and true for you, that would work great, as well.)

Whew! Still with me?

When the ice cream is ALMOST ready, add in around 2 cups of the broken up pralines and let them mix in well. (After this, we put the whole thing in the freezer for about an hour, but that is only a suggestion.) Then for the 'ribbon' of caramel, I put the now cold and thick caramel into a Ziploc bag, cut a hole into one corner, and squeezed it in thick lines little by little into the ice cream, folding it in very gently so it would get it's 'ribbon' appearance. After that, I put the ice cream back into the freezer just to let the caramel freeze up a bit, and that's it... finally!

Don't let the steps intimidate you... Matt and I did this together and had a blast. AND I EXPECT him to COMMENT on this post and tell EVERYONE how WONDERFUL it was! Did ya' get that, Husband? It's my "one condition" if you ever want me to make this again! : )

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shameful Confession of Soliciting Compliments from a 2-year-old

I ask you... Why does the answer to, "What do you say?" have to be "Please?" I mean 'please' is great and all and necessary for instilling good manners, but I'd like to suggest that it's ok to mix it up a bit every now and then.

I mean, this is a win-win situation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Random thoughts on a Monday afternoon

Random thought #1) This was what I was doing this time last year.... probably at this very moment. Look how little that boy was. Love that kid. (Pause for a brief moment of prayer: Dear Lord, please don't let the oil hit Destin beaches before our vacation in July. PLLLEEEAASSSSEEE! Amen.)

Random thought #2) Oh how I love my back patio. It's nothing special, but such an oasis of thought for me. Matt was gone all weekend, and I spent so much time out there, thinking, praying, EDITING, dreaming. It's the little things....

Random thought #3) Several people have asked me about my insulin pump and how it works (i.e. how often it sticks me). The pod pictured below is one that has been used and discarded. (I change pods every three days.) When I activate a pod, the cannula is automatically inserted just the once and stays in until I change pods 3 days later. The initial insertion only takes a fraction of a second, and is more intimidating than painful. I scream every. single. time. Such a big baby. I'm sure I'll get used to it. Once it's in, I don't feel it again, and it doesn't hurt at all to remove. I took a picture of the little tube that goes in. See? Not so bad.

Random thought #4) I am almost finished marking up my book, then I have to actually go back through and make the corrections on the computer. Most pages look like this... or worse. I am sure that this is not the proper way to go about things, but this is my I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing way of doing it. Whatever works, right?

And since I am literally get sick at my stomach at the thought of eyes other than my own actually reading this thing, I decided to post a little from the first chapter here. Baby steps.


She looked over her shoulder. No one in sight. She stood and approached the casket that sat waiting on steel beams to be lowered into the earth. The wood was shiny and smooth, and Kate ran her fingers across it. How wrong it seemed for something so beautiful to be buried deep beneath the ground, away from the world and everyone in it.

Suddenly the rain came. It pounded down on her tired body, soaking the new black dress she would never wear again. Her legs grew weak and began to shake. She looked up to the sky, undaunted by the mounting storm. The heavy drops stung her cheeks and mingled with the black mascara that ran from her eyes. Her bottom lip and chin began to quiver. The knot in her throat rose high.

She had remained elegantly poised since her arrival home. Family and friends and even those she had never met commented on her graciousness and strength. Many said she reminded them of her father who had died when Kate was only nine years old—a picture of bravery, they said. Only Aunt Modean and Truitt knew about Gray and the other woman and how Kate’s world had come crashing down around her in a single, unforeseen instant. Though, everyone would know soon enough. Millsville was small, and gossip spread with unrivaled intensity. Already chatter about Gray’s absence at the funeral was making the rounds among Millsville's most scandal-savvy citizens. Soon they would all know.

Standing in the rain, Kate thought of Gray and the ornate, oversized flower arrangement that came To the Boudrow Family from Debbie’s Flowers and Gifts with the card that read simply,'With Sympathy, Gray Canton'. While Kate had not expected him to attend the service, she had anticipated a phone call or note. If not to her, to Jane Ellen. But there had been nothing. Only, 'With Sympathy, Gray Canton'.

Kate’s body shuddered, and she wondered if thoughts of that night or the cold October wind were to blame. Alone amid the graves, pain took over and the sobs came without ceasing. Not since that night had she cried. Not since that night had she felt the desperation that now choked her. She had been too busy caring for Jane Ellen and her mother’s funeral preparations to wallow in the self-pity that was rightfully hers. But now quivering legs could no longer hold her, and she fell to her knees on the wet ground and took her face in her hands.

“Mama! You can’t leave me now. Please!” She caught her breath between sobs and dug her fingers into the soft earth of either side of her. “Please.” She pleaded, this time with the rain. “Wash me away.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Slushies and the Trophy

Playing off our frozen treat theme...

I found a fun way to make your own slushies. ( FYI: THIS WAS NOT MY ORIGINAL IDEA. I have so few of those.) I stole the idea here.

All you do is take a large Ziploc bag, and fill it with about 2 cups of ice and 3/4 cup of rock salt. In a smaller Ziploc, pour a little more than a cup of your favorite soft drink. My kids love root beer, so that's what we used. Now put the little Ziploc in the big Ziploc and shake. My kids loved doing this. It only took about 5 minutes to work, and voila! Rootbeer slushies.

Matt had just gotten home from a golf tournament and got in on the action.

And speaking of that golf tournament, Matt's group won second place and brought home a little trophy. He sat it on a shelf, and I might have made just a little fun of it. But sometime that night it went missing. He immediately accused me of swiping it. I plead my innocence, but I don't think he believed me. Later when we went to check on the kids before getting in bed, we found this....

You can think it's weird. We did. And we laughed. A lot. And then this morning, when I went looking for it, I found her eating breakfast with it. No, I'm not kidding.

Oh, my sweet Estella Dru. How I love your quirky little ways. At least Matt has found someone with a great appreciation for his accomplishment. But I think he may have lost his trophy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frozen Lemonade for the Slaughter kids

If you haven't noticed, it's hot out there. And I'm that mom who neeeeeds my kids to spend at least part of their day outside playing. We have gone through 3 huge packages of popsicles already. They eat them at warp speed and either knock on the door for more or ask to come back inside. I was in desperate need of a better distraction.

Yesterday, my kids spent over two hours in the backyard without any prompting (or threats) from Mommy. And this is why....

Frozen lemonade. I found this idea here. (If you're a mom and not an Idea Room reader, you should be. There are very few blogs I peruse daily, but this one is a must for me. There should be a law against someone being as creative as her.) This lemonade is simple, and my kids thought they were in heaven. Just look at it. I want some right now!

Just find your favorite frozen drink concentrate (we used pink lemonade) at the frozen section in your grocery store. Mix it according to the directions on the box, and add it to your ice cream maker. (She used the kind of machine that requires ice and rock salt, but we used one where you freeze a portion of the machine overnight and pour the ingredients right in. It worked great, too.)

So delicious, and just the right thing on a hot day. Even Matt loved it and wanted more. Too bad I gave it all to the kids, and the machine had to re-freeze overnight before I could make more. Sorry, Honey. : )

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sister Princesses Self Portrait (with random cats)

Yesterday, the girls and I worked on an a little art project. I stole the idea from my super creative friend, Sara. She took a big canvas, gave her little ones some paint, and let them go at it. Afterwards, she displayed their masterpiece in her home.

The girls have a space in their room behind their work table that needed something. I had it functioning as a place to display their artwork, but I just wasn't lovin' it. Then I remembered a huge canvas in the garage that we weren't using anymore....

We loaded up and went to Hobby Lobby to buy some cheap paints, and almost got distracted when we ended up in the same check out line as Cousin Amy from 19 Kids and Counting. I see the Duggar kids all over the place, but this was my first Amy encounter. If you've ever watched the show, you just have to love Cousin Amy. She had her little dog, Belle, and was so sweet showing her off to my kids. We stood and talked for about 5 minutes, and I played it totally cool the entire time, like I had so idea who she was. How dumb is that? Sometimes I amaze myself.

Anyway... back to the painting. I told the girls I wanted them to paint themselves as princesses. You should have seen their little eyes light up. So funny. They immediately got to work.

After they finished and before displaying, I wrapped the edges in fun, girly ribbon. What's more girly than some zebra print??

And this is the finished product, hanging in their room....

Bless their little hearts, they are just so proud of themselves. And I absolutely love it... Princess sisters walking their make-believe kitty cats. It just doesn't get any sweeter than that. It looks perfect in their room, and they had so much fun doing it. In fact, Estella Dru woke me up this morning with a kiss on my nose and said, "Thanks for letting us paint, Mommy." Melt my heart.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paula Deen's Lime Souffle

Tonight felt like a Paula Deen night.

So we made her lime souffles in coconut shells. So yummy! And perfect for summer entertaining... even though we were just entertaining ourselves.

Try the recipe here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Big Horn Ranch

We just spent an incredible weekend together as a family. Matt, as he sometimes does, surprised us with an overnight trip... this time, to Big Horn Ranch near Exeter, Missouri. I was a little skeptical. I don't really do 'the great outdoors.' But we had an unexpectedly awesome time.

Get ready for a ton of pictures. Sorry. That's just what I do.

This is the great hall to the Big Horn Ranch lodge. The kids were in total awe.

Jeb and the 'cow.' He could not be convinced otherwise.

Jeb and the 'big cow.'

The ranch has a 'high fence' with tons of deer for hunting. We went for a walk inside the fence near sundown.

I just love this picture.

We picked a lot of these.

And saw a lot of these.

The next day, we got up and went trout fishing.

Belle caught this beauty.

Tall, gorgeous bluffs overlooked the trout stream. Here I am pretending (very badly) to scale the cliff (in a swimsuit cover up and flip flops). Going to have to work on my believability.

And this guy kept me up at night. Ever see Night at the Museum? He was standing right outside our door, and I just kept imagining him coming to life and prowling the halls. Yikes!

Me and the girls saying goodbye to 'big cow.'

Belle and her 'favorite' stuffed deer. I think she named him Hoppy.

Estella Dru and her fox. The girls got so attached.

Honestly, if you're looking for an inexpensive, overnight family trip, I can't recommend this highly enough. It's only an hour from Springdale, and it has swimming, fishing, horseback riding, walking the trails for deer-sighting (which my kids LOVE), and more, and the lodge is amazing. Definitely something we'll do again, hopefully soon.

And I would also like to say HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to the BEST DADDY on the planet. Just ask his kids. They'll confirm. Matt, you could not be loved more. We adore you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I. Finished.

A few months before Grandma died, an idea started stirring in my head for a novel. I always knew I wanted to write novels and had even started a few, but it just was not to be. Wrong place. Wrong time. But the thought of this storyline wouldn't seem to go away, and so I started writing. I wrote for about two months, and then, my worst nightmare happened. A phone call... a frantic drive to Russellville... and Grandma slipped away forever.

I was mad. Mad at God. Mad at the world. And so, I boycotted the novel. I actually remember feeling Him prompting me to write, and my response... looking up at the sky and saying, "NO!" Out loud. No! Good thing He was big enough to take it. And so He just waited and kept reminding me of what He wanted me to do.

A year later, I sat down at my computer again. My heart had changed, so many things I had already written to that point were changed as well. But that was ok... It was meant to be that way, I think.

Over the next four years, I picked up the novel. And put it down. Picked it up. And put it down. (Mainly put it down.) I was plagued with the thoughts 1.) You can't finish this, 2.) If you do, it's going to suck, and 3.) It's going to suck.

Still, I persisted. Little by little. Between changing diapers, cleaning house, doing laundry, getting pregnant, having a baby, living with a baby, loving on my children, loving on my husband, every other duty I somehow have, getting diabetes, and life... I persisted.

And yesterday, five years after the thought entered my head, I finished what I started.

Here's the thing... It most likely does suck. But you know what? I. Finished. It. I finished it. I don't think I can ever remember actually feeling proud of myself. Ever. But yesterday, I did. I felt proud. And I can't help but think Grandma would be proud of me, too. I think she would make a big deal about it and ask me to read it and tell me it's the best thing she's ever read even if it's the worst.

I'm dedicating it to her and Grandpa.

And while it may serve only as a doorstop or an oversized paperweight, I am content knowing I wrote what He gave me, what he put on my heart at the exact time I needed it. I couldn't ask for more.

And I want to just say a quick thank you to everyone who has asked me about it over the years, how it was coming and such. I think my answers might have been a bit cryptic. (Please see reasons 1-3 in the fourth paragraph.) But I honestly can't tell you how much it meant to me that people cared. I am currently editing, and yes, we will probably pursue getting it published, although I have no idea where to start. We'll figure it out. I have a husband who is amazingly supportive and who has made the biggest deal out of it to the point of embarrassing me over the past couple of days. It's a good embarrassed, though. I love that man.

So, here it is. (See picture below and cue angel chorus.) It's around 450 pages in this format, but I'm guessing in an 'actual' book format, it will run about 350. It's the most beautiful, black, bound heap of pages I've ever seen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lovin' us some summertime...

Despite a boo boo or two...

And some things we just shouldn't tell Daddy...

This has been a beautiful day, beginning with my flowers blooming!

So beautiful.

So we pulled out the pool...

And posed for some pictures...

It just doesn't get any better than summer at home with my Slaughter kids. I am smitten.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Monday... Update on Pump

Tried to get some sun while the kids swam in the backyard in our new blow-up pool. So much for looking cute in a swim suit. Excuse me, Ma'am, but there is something pod-like attached to your side. Absolutely, 100% worth it, though. I'm still trying to regulate everything, but I LOVE my new insulin pump. It is amazing that I haven't given myself one shot in the last 72 hours. CRAZY AWESOME. My biggest problem is that, for some reason, Jeb is convinced that my pod is supposed to dispense candy. He keeps asking me for a quarter.

Monday Morning Amusement

Some little Slaughter found this amusing. And so did her mommy. Makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My New Accessory

So, I guess it's no secret. I turned 35 this year. For the record, I certainly don't feel 35. I'm not ashamed to say that most of the time, I totally lie about my age and get away with it. The other day at the endocrinologist's office, I told the lady my birthday date, and she questioned me. I asked her to be my best friend. Anyway, this year, I thought about doing something wild for my birthday. I'm pretty straight-laced. Fun, but conservative... a rule follower to say the least. Not really daring. Ok, not even a little daring. But for my birthday, my 35th birthday, I wanted to step outside the box.

I considered a tattoo, but soon realized I'm too big of a chicken. I had my belly button pierced before I had my babies, but the thought of re-doing it... not so much. Possibly a tongue ring? Those are cool, right? Right? Still, nothing clicked.

I almost gave up before I finally settled on a solution--something that finally worked for me. Something I think is WAY cool and I'm certain is going to change my life. And yes, it involved needles.


Like it??? Ok, so I totally DID NOT get a lip ring. For the record, I think it's awesome, but again... boc, boc. I'm a chicken.

But I did do this....

I am now the proud wearer of an Omnipod insulin pump. If you can't tell from the pictures, it's on my back, down low on the right. I went for training today and am fully hooked up and official. So far, so good. I can already see how this is going to make things easier and better for me in dealing with Type 1. Plus, I think it's way cool. Not quite the coolness quality of a lip ring, but close.