23 March 2013


Even though I was dead tired after our day trip South of Norman, I HAD to try making some toasted pecan butter before the day was over. (And I also had to take my 5th grader and her friend out chalking! My how things have changed!)

I toasted 2 cups of our shelled pecans in my cast iron skillet until they were fragrant (about 7 minutes stirring often on med-hi heat).

Making Roasted Pecan Butter

Then I processed 1 cup in my food processor for about 5 minutes. At first I thought I was going to end up with toasted pecan meal until the pecans gave up their oil and became a nice butter. I added only sea salt to this batch and a dash of cinnamon to the second batch.

Roasted Pecan Butter

This was very satisfying for breakfast on toast with some of that wonderful MIO Strawberry Lavender jam.

Pecan Butter and Strawberry Lavender Jam on Toast

* Made in Oklahoma

22 March 2013

Breaking Spring

For the first day of Spring we took the kids to see Oz the Great and Powerful. This was the second movie that the whole family went to and the kids behaved really well...just like last time. No crying, no talking through every scene. Probably because we loaded ourselves down with snacks to keep our chew holes busy! We thought the movie (it's a prequel to the Wizard of Oz) was a family hit.

The next day we drove South to Pauls Valley for a day of surprises for the kids (the littlest ones anyway) starting with a trip to the Toy & Action Figure Museum. Until a couple of weeks ago I didn't know this museum even existed. I was researching options for day trips in Oklahoma as my plans for a trip to the Great Salt Plains State Park were thwarted by the park not being open until next month.

TMNT Chopper
TMNT Happiness
Spidey Girl

17 March 2013

Bullfrog Massacre

For some reason I thought cleaning out our pond would only take 1 day. I didn't realize just how big of a pond it was (or a job it would be).

Friday the pond looked pretty much like this at the start.

  Pond Project

It's obvious that we had some dead vegetation to remove. We also knew there were lots of tadpoles in the pond still, but we only ever saw 3-4 full grown bullfrogs.  2 years ago we found the bullfrogs trying to take over the pond.  We didn't realize how bad the infestation was.

They have made life fairly miserable for the fish that managed to survive. We saved a dozen or more goldfish and hope they can hang in there until after we get the pond completely cleaned out.

This is what our pond looked like by the end of the work day on Friday. Doesn't look dramatically different but we worked a long time to drain the muck filled pond down to this level and we filled up a few trash bags with the root bound and dead vegetation.

Pond Cleanout (Day 1)

This view shows just how deep the pond is. Even drained down to this much, it was iffy on whether to go ahead and get in with rain boots and start shoveling because you don't want that swamp water inside your boots!

Pond Cleanout (Day 1)

A few years ago, before the frogs, we had quite a few more fish in the pond.

Back when Flounder and bigger goldfish were still with us in June 2011
We're hoping to stock the pond with fish and flora soon...

On day 2 we seemed to make a lot more progress. The cattails and hyacinth were so tightly bound together that we could walk on the "island" to begin hacking away at it all. We are getting rid of the cattails completely and only keeping a very sparse amount of the beautiful hyacinth.

I can't seem to find the pictures of the hyacinth when it was blooming and beautiful but I did find this picture of the hyacinth right after my sister's dog tromped through it. That should give you an idea of how thick it was back then (2 years ago!).

Dog Tromp Through Hyacinth
Before tadpole awareness, July 2011
By the end of Day 2 we'd removed several containers of the pond plants and probably 10x that amount of plants growing within the roots of other plants! It was disgusting and scary and twice I happened upon bullfrogs hidden in the muck and roots. I actually picked one up and tossed its sliminess up onto that pile of pond plants. Ewww! 

We were using clippers to cut through the vegetation and after sighting 2 healthy looking bullfrogs, we were worried that the swampy water was going to get bloody. We got lucky in that we didn't clip any frogs. One frog hopped into the mostly empty pool the other day and stayed... ;.(

Our sump pump kept getting clogged by tadpoles and muck and we'd stop every once in a while to let the muck settle and hack away at a root ball and search for fish survivors trying to get some air. We filled up the wheelbarrow over and over with muck from our nets and leaf rake (we really needed a seining net) and we dumped that at the West end of the property where no one really hangs out.  Maybe it will make for some fertile (if not stinky) ground.

Pond Cleanout (Day 2)

This is where we are now. We are letting the invasive plants dry out before bagging them up and letting the last bit of muck dry out before we start shoveling and scooping out the pond. I want to scrub down the liner and rinse it out before we refill the water and add back in the hyacinth and fish.

Once we defoliate a little on the East side and rinse off the rocks, that area will be a little more of an oasis to enjoy. It's going to be so nice to have a clear pond again with a working waterfall (maybe 2).  And some nice water lilies....

Love working on projects like this...(wish we hadn't waited so long)

10 March 2013

L.O.V.E * Life

I'm sure I would love life more often if I had access to endless rainbows and the prettiest blue water in the world...and PINEAPPLE!

Beautiful Blue
Gorgeous Blue Waters

Pineapples and Rainbows

But I think Oklahoma should be ranked a little higher than it seems to be ranked in this article. I love living in Oklahoma and I also love visiting more exotic places (or just different places)

But it's always good to come home again...

*from the song  Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix ) by Wyclef Jean featured in 50 First Dates 

09 March 2013

Saturday Night Special

Last night was Italian night at our house with my brother-in-law treating us to some delicious spaghetti with meat balls, shrimp lasagna rolls and prosciutto mozzarella appetizers. We sampled wine and porked out on the food. It was a good night and I am so happy to have close family who also loves to cook. The spaghetti was delicious again today for lunch...my brother-in-law is like my mom in that they prepare way too much food for gatherings. And in this economy, actually in any economy, we like leftovers in this household.

Today has been a dreary day. And as much as I really wanted to get out and dig and chainsaw in the backyard, the forced down time was good for us. We watched Wreck It Ralph and Here Comes the Boom with the kiddos.

David had a soccer game before the rain hit and his team won (again)! David has a pattern in which he scores the winning (or the last, depending on how high the score is) goal. He is really relishing these wins because he is on a new team. His first team in the Fall won every game and so had some reservations about playing on a new team (he was worried they were going to lose). I personally think that he needs to experience a few losses to be humbled and know that life is not all about winning. But Lord help us when that first loss happens...

The girls and I hit the mall while the guys were at the soccer fields. We had to get some pants for the Emster and socks for the Little Ones. Just in time for the warmer weather too... We also hit Natural Grocers to pick up some stuff they don't have at Homeland (ingredients to make "wheat meat" and other hippie food). I have wanted to make seitan for a while now, ever since I saw how easy it was on HHH and now I have all of the ingredients in my pantry...it's on the menu for later this week.

Greek Cucumber Salad Maker
Making Greek Cucumber Salad

Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Greek Cucumber Salad
Greek Inspired Dinner (Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Greek Yogurt/Cucumber Salad)

My little helper also helped me make another pecan pie like we made 2 months ago using this recipe, but it didn't come out the same. It might be because I was trying to "healthy" it up a little by swapping out corn syrup with brown rice syrup. It seemed a bit soupy the first time out of the oven....and also the 2nd time out of the oven 20 minutes later.  I am sure I messed the custard up earlier, not mixing it up properly because I don't think that corn/rice syrup made the difference. I will have to test that theory out later this week.

Meanwhile, this pie works as a topping for vanilla ice cream and milk mixture.

Pecan Pie Soup

05 March 2013

Oahu Recap (Part 3)

This post wraps up my trip to Oahu. (*sad face*)

Waikiki Beach (from the car)

Chickens at Pali Lookout

What a view!
As if the view wasn't breathtaking enough, the wind almost swept us away. And there were signs to watch out for the bees during high winds, so that was kinda scary.


See what I mean about the wind?

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at this beach and I gulped down some beach air and caught some sunset views...

Afterwards, I went back to my hotel, dropped off my laptop, and then went walking around Waikiki. I picked up a few more souvenirs and treated myself to a late dinner of kalua pork tostadas from La Cucaracha (yum!).

The next morning I took an express shuttle to the airport and a mere 12 hours later I was home! ;.)

Tonight I watched 50 First Dates again (we have it on Blu-ray) and reminisced about last week's trip. I am so happy I got the chance to experience shave ice and rainbows in Hawai'i! I hope I get to go back because there are a few more things I'd like to see and do:

04 March 2013

Oahu Recap (Part 2)

On the second day, at the recommendation of a local engineer working with us, we checked out Kahuku Grill. We stopped at Ted's Bakery first but it was crazy busy so we opted to try for Ted's the next day.

  Kahuku Grill (obvs)

Maybe it was my headache or maybe from lack of sleep and coffee, but this place was just ok for me. I ordered a fish sandwich trying to stay light and healthy and it came to me smothered in onions and cheese. "Normal me" might have loved that but I was not feeling normal. But the fries they accidentally served with my sandwich were really tasty.

Hawaii Beach

After work we decided to drive around some more and hit Sunset Beach (at least I think it was Sunset Beach...will have to get confirmation on that.).

I rolled up my pant legs and dipped my feet in at this beach and was surprised by the coolness of the water. I guess I shouldn't have been because it was still February!


After we left, we kept on driving. I told you that I have been on all of the highways of HI... 



Halona Blowhole, Oahu South Shore
I read that in the winter you can see humpback whale and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) from here (Hanauma Bay). We didn't see anything near as exciting but the geyser shooting up at high tide was pretty cool.



I will have to find out the names of the places in the pictures above...be back later...

03 March 2013

Oahu Recap (Part 1)

Now that I've been home for a couple of days, I thought I should recap my trip before it's faded away too much. It was such a whirlwind trip with barely any sleep that it's hard to hold on to it all. Glad I took my camera so I can refresh my memory.

First off, I have to say that I think I could totally blend in there in Hawai'i. I felt surrounded by cousins and everyone was so friendly.

We landed in Honolulu right at noon on Tuesday. While my body was sleep deprived and feeling like it was 4pm (it was in Oklahoma), I felt like I should take the island in while it was daylight because the next 2 days were mostly about work.

So we got settled into our hotels and then we hit the road. My head was on a swivel checking out all of the flora (beautiful fragrant flowers!) and fauna (mostly chickens) and the beautiful blue ocean and waves. I am so glad that I didn't have to drive so I could take it all in.

After we drove around for a bit we decided to head to the Dole Plantation to check out what they grow in HI and get some pineapple samples. We walked through the gardens a little and then took a train through the bigger gardens.

Red Pineapple (I think)

Koa Tree @Dole

01 March 2013

Bizcation (What the What?)

I mean... Aloha, friends!

My body and mind are still on island time currently while I sit at the SFO on my 4 hour layover. I am not sure what to expect for sleeping patterns when I get home later tonight.

I was in Waikiki for work this week!!!  My work was actually on the north shore of Honolulu but there are limited accommodations over there.  I still can't believe I was in Hawai'i for work!

Monday night when forecasted blizzard conditions were supposed to hit, I hardly slept waiting for a text from the airline that my flight was canceled due to thunder snow and extreme howling winds. But I got lucky (again...the first time was in scoring this trip!) and the flight was not canceled. I left OKC at 6:22am and arrived in Hawai'i at a little before noon.

There was no group of lovely ladies hulaing and giving us leis when we landed though. Guess that's only in the movies? Or on the Big Island? There was a car waiting for us at the rental place though.

I had on long pants and long sleeves (my ski jacket stowed in my carryon because it was 33 degrees when we left Oklahoma) so the first order of business was to change into warmer weather clothing because it was 78 degrees there in Honolulu!!!

We drove around much of the afternoon taking in the views and ocean air. I felt guilty much of the time walking around in tsinellas while my family was at home in the windy snow\sleet\rain of winter. I don't think winter comes to HI.

Here's how natives describe the weather there: Sometimes same, sometimes a little bit different.

It was beautiful and the views I saw were awe inspiring. I did get to dip my feet into the surf but I didn't get to slip into my swimsuit (probably a mixed blessing there). And now I am trying to hang on to that aloha mana for a little longer.

I am happy to report that not only did we get all of our work accomplished, but I also have been on every highway in Honolulu. There are 3 and they are labeled as 'Interstate'. (What?)

Even though it was a quick trip, you know I took pics of everything so I can share my experience. I will upload pics soon.

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