Monday, September 26, 2011

One Year Anniversary Photos

My youngest brother and sister-in-law will soon be celebrating their one-year anniversary.  We took photos at Kristin's aunt and uncle's farm.  I'd really like to pose an American Gothic-style photo with them in front of the old farm house they fixed up last year (overalls, pitch fork, serious expressions).  We'll see if we can pull that off.  They also have a blog, so you might find more photos there a little later!

Happy one-year anniversary!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lovely Little Lady

I have to admit that I'm enjoying taking pictures of my friends' kids.  Alexa is six months old, and so we took pictures on her grandma's yard. 

I first met Alexa's mom, Jana, when I was 5 or 6.  I got to go to play at my friends' house, and Jana was the little sister.  I vaguely remember avoiding the little sister by running away from her, and locking her out of the room, but Amy would have to back me up on that one. I normally wouldn't remember too many details from that age, except that this was one of the first times I got to go to a friends house, which happened to be in town and more importantly, I got to play with girls.  Having three older brothers at the time, this didn't happen too often, so when it did it was special. 

I enjoy capturing details  in a pictures that speak more than words.  Alexa's eyes speak so many words, even though she isn't old enough to say what she is thinking. 

Deep Rock Family Photo

 Deep Rock is an old gas station in our small Iowa town on the square.  It has nice vintage charm that makes you love being a part of small-town Iowa.  It is now maintained by a gardening club, who keeps up a beautiful garden behind it with lots of recycled funky items, like doors, tea sets, and rusty tricycles stuck in corners of gardens. 

This weekend I took a few pictures of a family that also make you proud of being a part of a small Iowa town.  And, grateful for families who also have three small children.

The lighting was dull this weekend, so I admit that I was a little challenged by that.  I compensated by setting White Balance for the cloudy conditions, but still found it hard to use a lower Aperature (which is nice for portraits) without getting blur from fast moving kids.  Looking back, I forgot to adjust my ISO (which makes the camera more sensitive to light). 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crockpot Apple Oatmeal

I made this recipe for breakfast, and it was a big hit in our house. Zachary, our one year old, was the biggest fan. The recipe came from the dietitian at the Newton HyVee last fall, and I didn't get around to trying it until this week.  With a three, two, and one year old to feed, cold cereal doesn't cut it, so we end up eating a lot of eggs.  It was wonderful to have something hot and ready when getting out of bed on a cold morning.

I did do a little research yesterday before throwing in the crock pot last night.  Recipes online for overnight oatmeal insisted that Steel Cut Oats be used.  Quick oats or Rolled oats would overcook an turn into porridge - looking mess.  So I bought Steel Cut Oats, opened them, and felt they looked like something you might feed your horse on a cold morning, and not your kids...

When I was little I would pick apart the head of oat plant in the field, unwrapping the grain from the dried leaf it was wrapped in, leaving what looked like a rolled up grain of rice.  These Steel Cut Oats looked just like that, but chopped once or twice.  I felt a little Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish using such an unprocessed looking grain.  But she wouldn't have had a crock pot, or non stick cooking spray. 

I have a few pictures of my younger brother Karl harvesting oats in 2006 I took when we were visiting Iowa from Grand Rapids the summer after Brian and I graduated from seminary.  Steel Cut Oats don't look much different than the ones in the back of his combine hopper.

This recipe is one we are going to be making a lot.  It will be fun to let the boys add raisins, sprinkles, or chocolate chips.

I also added water to the HyVee recipe, since I was using steel cut oats, and had an in inkling they would use more water than regular oats.  I'm glad I did.  The consistency was wonderfully creamy.  I was surprised that the oatmeal stayed creamy all morning.  Zach had seconds at ten in the morning before his nap, and they were still creamy.  Quick oats or instant oatmeal would be pasty, which is one problem I have with making instant oatmeal for my kids.  It has to be eaten in a certain time frame before it turns into pasty-crusty mess that no amount of maple syrup or milk can fix. 

This recipe had apples and pecans, which softened nicely so that the kids could eat.  I'm sure that you could make your own substitutes of different nuts or fruits.  In the picture, you can see I added some mixed fruits and nuts to mine.  I also added a little half n half while I was adding it to my coffee.

HyVee Crockpot Apple Oatmeal

3 C water
1/2 C brown sugar
1 T butter
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
1 C Steel Cut Oats
1 C finely chopped apple
1/4 C chopped pecans

Spray inside of 3-4 quart slow cooker with non stick spray.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and mix well.  Cover and turn on low.  Cook over night or 8-9 hours.  Stir well before serving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September Get-A-Way

This past weekend I met a close friend from Michigan just outside of Chicago for a get-a-way that involved staying at a hotel, eating Chipoltle burritos, shopping at an outlet mall and a Target trip.

I left my children at home, which was wonderful. I took a nap at the hotel. I read a book. I could use a public restroom without worry of where to set a kid. I could travel and drink coffee without turning around while driving. I could eat and I didn't have to share. I was able to pack in one bag in about 10 minutes. To be honest, I was nervous to drive to Chicago by myself. The last time I drove by myself any significant distance was pre-kids, probably five years ago. I survived just fine. I borrowed my mom's car, which saved a lot on gas mileage and as a bonus included a radar detector. Along with my GPS I was set. I bet your mom's car doesn't have a radar detector.

No kids + GPS + radar detector + Rachel from Michigan = a fabulous weekend trip to Chicago.

Funny we forgot to take a photo of us two, but we remembered to take pictures of my friend's 6 month old, Luke. We took a few in the hotel room, and a few on the front lawn of the hotel.