July 16, 2015

Bacon-studded Honey Mustard Snaxx

titleThis month’s Improv ingredients are pretzels & mustard. I love making mustard (like I did here) but one must do that not-at-the-last-minute for a challenge!

Anyhow, the wonderhubs has a life-long aversion to pretzels, & I am currently (involuntarily) participating in an aversion to gluten. My solution was to come up with a gluten-free snack mix, where he could pick around those nazzzty pretzel pieces.EJmustpretzel (3)

I’d been seeing “Muddy Buddies” & “Chex Snack” mixes done in the crock pot on various blogs. That sounded so much more exciting to me than heating the oven/house for an hour or two while toasting the mix. (If your slow cooker, like mine, does not have a vent, you will need to use a towel to absorb the “perspiration” that comes off the mix as it cooks.)EJmustpretzel

Here’s my recipe:

¼ cup mustard powder

¼ cup water

½ cup butter

½ cup honey

3 cups Corn Bran Crunch™ cereal

3 cups Rice Chex™ cerealDSCN2878

3 cups Honey Nut Chex™ cereal

3 cups gluten free pretzels

2 cups gluten free rice crackers

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup bacon crumbles

Mix mustard powder with water and let sit to thicken 10-15 minutes. Melt butter and stir in honey. Add thickened mustard and whisk until smooth.EJmustpretzel (6)

Combine remaining ingredients into crock. EJmustpretzel (7)Pour over honey mustard mixture and stir gently.EJmustpretzel (13)Cook on “Low” for 2 hours, carefully stirring every 30 minutes.

Pour onto parchment paper to cool.EJmustpretzel (15)Devour!

EJmustpretzel (19)This makes you wish for a larger crock…

…because you want to TRIPLE the recipe!

Check out what my friends did with their pretzels & mustard:

July 14, 2015

Backside of the June…

markThe 6th month of the year is has always been a whirlwind for my family. When I was growing up, my grandparents’ anniversary was on the 2nd, my parents’ the 6th, then came Father’s Day & my birthday right on top of each other. Grandpa & Grandma had a camp that they ran for at least two weeks of this month as well.

Then I decided to have a June wedding, and my in-law’s decided to have both their birthdays in June, too!Gpa Shingler

If you blend the above facts with this month’s trips, you can see that June was, well, INSANE!

In between the two Colorado jaunts we took Mom & Dad out for dinner to celebrate their joint birthdays. Creative planning running thin, we decided to take them to, ummmmmmmm, Rudy’s. Smile

I was able to muster a few creative juices to make their gifts.

DSCN2717I made this for my MIL with the help of my digital cutting machine & a frame from the HobLob.

For the FIL (a man who s coffee & adores fudge) I whipped up a batch of Espresso Toffee-topped Espresso Fudge.EJtoffeebitsSilly me, I made the old-fashioned recipe of fudge where you have to beat it until your arm falls out of the socket.

EJjustbeatitBut it was worth it!EJesspressotoffeefudge (13)The toffee was my favorite part of it all.EJesspressotoffeefudge (19)Although, the fudge wasn’t too bad…

EJesspressotoffeefudge (22)Pretty sure it’s all gone now…EJesspressotoffeefudge (26)

July 13, 2015

Why we went to CO

subtitled: Why we drove 3500 (+ or -) miles in 160 (+ or -) hours
We were crazy? Probably, but that’s not the full explanation… (This is going to be a LONG story, so you might as well go grab that second cup of coffee & scone, then come back & settle in.)DSCN2524My parents made the decision a few years ago that they would pay the way to SUMMIT Student Conference for any of their 10 grandchildren who wanted to (or were able) attend. In June 2013, Zach & one of my nieces took advantage of that generous offer. (I refer to part of that story in this post.) 2013SummitLast year another niece & nephew attended their 2-week session in California.
This year, Alec decided he would go to Manitou Springs for his conference. Zach had been wishing to return, so he save up his hard-earned cash so he could attend as well. Because not one of Zach’s 3 vehicles could be trusted for that long of a journey (and I couldn’t be without my van for the full 2 weeks) it was decided that we would drop them off, then return for them when their session was complete.20150613_064746We left bright & early Saturday morning and headed north. Because we had three drivers we were fairly aggressive and pulled in to Pagosa Springs before sunset. We had a delicious Thai dinner then walked around town, checking out the hot springs.20150613_200228Next morning we pointed our nose to Wolf Creek Pass and the beautiful snowy mountain landscapes beyond.DSCN2497We stopped at Treasure Falls for a picture of the water (really too early in the day for great pictures…) 20150614_084851video
…and another selfie.DSCN2525
Eventually we wound up in Manitou dropped the boys at their destination. 20150614_141015We headed down into Colorado Springs to meet our friends for a quick early dinner, then the plan was to get a few hour start on the trip back home.Well, that was the plan. What happened was after dinner we went back to their house and fellowshiped and decided to spend the night. Their neighborhood has such lovely views of Pikes Peak!20150615_062011We grabbed a quick breakfast at Rudy’s (they also had the cheapest gas on our route through town!)20150615_134530then headed South, away from the beautiful mountains.

We pulled into Albuquerque in time to eat lunch at a Rudy’s there!
lunchThen we pointed the van to home. Ahhhhhhhh…

We rested up for a few days while our boys up at Summit were going non-stop. Sometimes I’d get a text saying, “Mom! I played Ultimate Frisbee with Frank Turek!” I’d reply (because Dr. Turek is one of our favorite authors) “That is soooooooo awesome!” To which I’d receive, “ I know! He’s such a great player!”
20150624_070250[1]Perspective!summitThey had an incredible two weeks up on the mountain. Learning from & conversing with great minds like Josh McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, Scott Klusendorf, Mike Adams and Del Tackett.
The sessions always end with a graduation the final Friday night. We missed Zach’s two years ago; but made the decision to attend his & Alec’s this year. So we packed up our youngest 1435240597326and hit the road on the 25th. 20150625_201348We drove & drove until we hit Trinidad for dinner and sleep!
gotgWe made enough time to be able to take in some of God’s beautiful creation found in the Garden Of The Godsmanitouspgsand the awesome architecture of Manitou.20150626_164608During the parent meeting prior to dinner & graduation, I sat in Zach’s seat for the past two weeks of learning. Do you think those speakers will remember a 6’7” bearded fellow in their face?
After graduation we returned to enjoy our friends’ hospitality (Zach & Alec wouldn’t be ready to leave until Saturday morning.) Before we picked up those two for the return trip home, three of us stopped to eat breakfast at, wait for it… RUDY’S! brefusses(Seriously, smoked brisket, fried potatoes & scrambled eggs is a combo you can’t beat!)
Keith wished to show the boys one of the Colorado towns he spent a couple years while growing up, so we headed up over the hills to Alamosa. 20150627_093456Can you count the 14,000ft peaks in this panorama @ almost 9,000 ft elevation?
alamosaaHe found & showed us the house his parents built & the church they attended while living there.
Then it was on to Albuquerque to meet up with my Uncle Roger for dinner at Garduño's. What an incredible dinner -- those were some of the best shrimp tacos I’ve had! Later, we were thrilled to be able to spend the night up at his home in a beautiful canyon up in the hills.20150628_060403Next morning he fixed us an incredible breakfast and showed us around his ranchito.20150628_073359
20150628_074223And then we crammed back into the van and headed home so Keith could work the next day… Sad smile

July 11, 2015

Cute graduation gift

So adorable, but I can only take credit for printing, cutting & gluing…

DSCN2449I saw this printable here.

DSCN2448I figured it would be a cute little thing to send up to our niece for her high school graduation. (uhhhhh, there is $$ rolled up in the little diploma, in case you didn’t get the “dough” reference…) Open-mouthed smilegradanna(We would’ve much rather been in the crowd watching her walk, but the timing was bad because of a trip to CO…)famatannasgradCongratulations, Anna! We are so proud of you. You are a beautiful woman, inside & out. Love you!banana