Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Reason Why I L.O.V.E. being an Oodling

One of the supreme joys of having nephews and nieces is Oodling over the sweet babes.  ("Oodling" is an official term, defined officially as "the action of hysterical hugging, cheek-pinching, laughing, and at times, arm-flapping, erupting from feelings of pure adoration and soul-quaking excitement.")
Ryan and I are so blessed to have three nephews.  They are the cutest and sweetest children. Ever.  
But you know, we're biased.  
I'm sure you feel that way about your nieces, nephews, or children.  As you should.

But, I must say, my soul was particularly delighted today getting to see (in person or in pictures) our precious nephews in their Halloween costumes. 

Here are the lads with their parents...

The Barkers were trick-or-treating with Tigger.

The force be with you, Max. (Dressed as Yoda)

The Burkes just monkeying around.

I was in a complete state of Oodling paralysis.  
And can't you see why?!?!! Quite the predicament.  
Ryan fanned my face and gave me bowlfuls of ice cream to eat...I eventually pulled through intact.  

Have you experienced Oodling over your nephews??  Nieces?  Precious children of your own?  What did they dress as for Halloween?  

Some things in life are just too rich for words. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Checked Off

Within the last week, two things have been checked off our To-Do list.  

First, last Wednesday, Ryan and his dad finished harvest.  

This always precedes a big sigh of satisfaction and relief.  While farmers do love harvest, they also like having it finished with the crops in the bin or sold.  
For farm wives, the end of harvest heralds the return of your beloved from the field....the end of the super long hours...more dinners and evenings together...happiness.  

So long, Harvest, we'll see ya next fall.  

Second, we completed our Amazing Race application video.  We had a blast...seriously - A BLAST - making the video with Ryan's sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Brandon.  We got to visit them this past weekend in northern Illinois.  We laughed, joked, pondered, laughed some more....and that was just breakfast.  They were exceedingly gracious hosts and producers of our video.  

Here are a couple still photos captured from our video...

If we do make it on the Amazing'll be the first...well, maybe 12th, to know. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two Developments

Development #1

Much to my surprise on Wednesday, Ryan received a fairly large package.  But neither of us recognized the name on the return label and it was sealed with zebra-print duct tape. 
That's odd.
Ryan proceeded to open up the box.  Harkening back the anthrax days of 2001, I decided to step away.  Ryan jokingly said, "What if it's a bomb?!!" And I took another step back.  Or two.  
Ryan - "What are you stepping away for?"
Me - "Well, what if it is a bomb?"
Ryan - "Oh my."

From a few feet away, I watched Ryan open up the package and pull out an Apple charging cord.  
Hmm..this is really odd.  My mind began to wonder if somehow we'd been sent someone else's package.  
Ryan proceeded to pull out an Apple laptop and I was really perplexed.  
What if this is someone else's package?? 
Then I remembered that it specifically had Ryan's name on it.  
It was meant for Ryan.
Then I started putting the pieces together.  
"Baby, is this for us?....Baby, did you order this?? this for real?? IS IT??? IS IT???" 
Ryan - "It's your Mac."
Me - *Vigorous jumping up and down and assaulting of Ryan*

So, that whole story is to say that I've officially joined the world of Mac-users.  And I'm pretty excited about it.  

Maybe I should get an Apple sticker for my car.  

Hmm..but then I might feel compelled to wear dark plastic-rimmed glasses, go to Starbucks every afternoon, wear skinny jeans all the time, and trade the Volvo for a Prius.  

Hmm...I think I'll pass.  This one seems more appropriate...

Development #2

As it was previously mentioned, Ryan and I are huge fans of Amazing Race.  We recently found out that CBS is accepting applications for the next season through November 7th.  So, we have decided to throw our hat into the ring (nod to our political climate) for the 23rd season of Amazing Race.  

We will be working on our application video soon, and we would love your ideas on what would make a good video!  Please share.  

That's all for now.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Things Girls Do

What's a girl to do on a rainy, windy fall day?  Curl up next to the fireplace.
But if she's got no fireplace?  Well, the next obvious choice is to bake.  Throw together some tasty treat and curl up next to that warm oven.  

Let's be honest...It's really not the same.  Fireplaces, preferably wood-burning, are in a league of their own in terms of providing warmth (both in temperature and in ambiance) to a home.  But I truly enjoy baking and Ryan enjoys the fruits of my baking.  And as far as it being a thing girls do...many men enjoy baking, and I hope they enjoy the luscious morsel I'm going to share with you today.  

Say "hello" to Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins.  

This combination came to me over the course of the last week.  Our dear friend from church, Janet, made this recipe from Country Living - Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins - for our small group.  I ate two at small group and took two more home for breakfast the next day.   Seriously...they were delicious.  

Then yesterday my co-worker told me about a pumpkin streusel muffin that she got from a local bakery.  With topping like an apple pie, but on a pumpkin muffin.  That got my wheels a-turnin'.  

Could the rich creaminess of the cream cheese muffin be paired with the crumbly sugary 
streusel goodness?? This could go down in history along with a long line of famous duos - 

Lavern and Shirley
Lucy and Desi
Jack and Jill (haven't you heard?? They went up the hill)
Kermit and Miss Piggy
Scrambled eggs and cheese
Case and IH
Peanut Butter and M&Ms (now what we call Peanut Butter M&Ms)
Oh yes.  This could be monumental.  This could be providential.  This could be epic.  
It is MTB - Meant to Be.  

A disclaimer - This is a multi-bowl recipe.  I know. I know.  My heart sank, too, when I thought about the clean up of multiple bowls.  But it's worth it.  That's all I'm sayin'.  

Below is the recipe I used.  It is tweaked from the Country Living recipe.  (I should mention that the CL recipe does include a small crumb topping, but not enough in my opinion.)  

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins (AKA Sweet Nectar of Heaven)
(Makes 24 muffins)


8 oz cream cheese (softened)
3 eggs
2 cups + 3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups solid-packed pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Crumb Topping -
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup. whole oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbsp. butter
Pecan pieces to taste (optional)

Here we go...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tins (I substituted an angel food cake pan for one of the muffin tins to make a coffee cake) with oil.  
In a small bowl beat the cream cheese, one egg, and 3 Tbsp. sugar until smooth. Set aside.  In a large bowl combine the white sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and 2 tsp. cinnamon.  In a separate bowl (this is the multi-bowl part I was talking about) beat 2 eggs with the pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork until moistened.  

Fill each muffin cup using half of the pumpkin batter.  Then spoon a dollop (that's exact) of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin cup.  Use a knife or toothpick to swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese mixin' here.  We just want to swwwiiiirrrllll... 

Top with the remaining pumpkin mixture.  

Next combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon for the crumb topping.  Using a pastry blender (or fork or potato masher or your chewed-off finger nails...basically, whatever you've got) cut in the butter.  Add pecans if desired.  

Add crumb topping to the muffins...

Throw 'em in the prepared oven for about 15 minutes.  The original recipe said 20-25.  I took mine out at 17 minutes and they were a bit more done than I'd like.  I would check them at least at 13 minutes just to ensure these precious gems don't get too done.  

And Wha-La! 

Pour yourself some cider and savor a taste of autumn...all baked right into the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Things Boys Do

Boys like to do fast things....

With powerful machines....

That push the limit...
*Enter the Four-Wheeler*

To celebrate Ryan's 30th birthday, I joined Ryan and his friend, Erik, for some four-wheeling  at Finger Lakes State Park north of Columbia, Missouri.  The day was gorgeous - sunny, 60's, the leaves were just changing - Autumn was showing off.  

Ryan was pumped and primed.  I, on the other hand, was probably the color of dirty dishwater and had no fingernails to speak of once we arrived at the park.  Oh boy, I was nervous.  Now this could have had something to do with the fact that I had only driven a four-wheeler once before.  Ever.  In my life.  Yes, just once.  We call this learning through immersion.   

Ryan reviewed with me how to turn on...(yes, I didn't know) the beast.  We reviewed basic maneuvers and of course, I became very friendly with the brake.  Hello, Brake, you're my new best friend. (Just a side note to say that at this specific point my bladder control, and dignity, were seriously in question...)

This is the look of terror...
And check out the helmet...I look like Darth Vader's daughter.    

Luke, I am your sister. *labored Vader breathing*

But I digress...

Here's Ry - 
My fearless leader.

So anyway, we took a test run, went back to meet Erik, I whispered a final prayer for mercy, and we were off........


The boys graciously didn't go too fast and they allowed me to be in the middle of the pack.  We went over rocks, downed trees, over and down hills that I seriously thought were not possible for a four-wheeler to run.  
 (It only appears as though I'm going to hit the tree)

Oh...and then there were the mud holes.  
I L.O.V.E.D. the mud holes.  


Because it felt pretty cool to go through and throw up such a nasty splash.  But most importantly...I knew when I was going through a mud hole that I wasn't going to roll, flip, or hit a tree.  
For the briefest of moments my heart was at ease.  

Here Ryan and Erik are showing what they're made of...

And taking a quick break to repair my flag...

By the evening we had traversed what had to have been miles of trails but what was really only 1/3 to 1/2 of the park.  

We decided to call it quits and head home.  

All in all, I made it out in one piece...without a stretcher.  
And it was fun.  Really fun.  

I guess I kinda like the things boys do.