Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gingerbread Houses! 2014

We received a very special invitation from our new ward friends and subdivision neighbors, Richard and Natassia Scoresby. They make gingerbread houses every year. It's a family tradition of Richard's and they asked if we'd like to join them. They were planning on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but Jared was working an extra shift that day, so they graciously moved it to 9 in the morning on Saturday, November 29th, so we could do it with them. Jake had basketball practice at 9:30, but he got a little creative construction in before he had to go.

We took a few bags of candy to donate to the creative cause. I was expecting graham crackers and little milk cartons that are commonly used for classroom holiday parties. But oh no. This was Extreme Gingerbread House Construction with all the bells and whistles. There were a ton of different candies, bowls of icing and real, legit, sheets of authentic gingerbread that they used to build these adorable little houses--glued together by clear, melted sugar. I don't even want to know how many large jelly roll sheets of gingerbread they had to bake to construct all these little individual houses. This was definitely Advanced Placement Gingerbread House Making. :) The kids had a fabulous time and it was fun to spend some one-on-one time with our new friends.

Left to right around the table:
Calvin, JJ, Nathan Scoresby, Cooper, Karcyn and Aislinn Scoresby.

Calvin (age 6) surprising me with his eye for details.

Nathan focusing hard!

Cooper (age 12) laying the frosting on thick!

Karcyn (age 8) making the roof colorful.

JJ (age 3) doing great things with his house!

Then deciding he needed to eat a few of those chocolate candies. (I'm with you, Bud!)

Aislinn working on her roof.

Wesley (age 1) doing exactly what a one year old should do!

Jared :)

Nathan--caught in the act! :)

I never thought to frost the "ground." Shows you have non creative I am!!

More creative juices are flowing by using crushed up shredded wheat for the "thatched roof" look!

Richard and Natassia hard at work.

Richard's gummy bear bunker!

Jared's house! (The Scoresby's even pre-cut little windows and doors in the gingerbread!)

Natassia doing some amazing things I could never dream of!

Nice job, Coop!

Whoa. That house looks like it belongs in Candy Land!

I love the gummy bear sentinels at the top of Calvin's roof!

Natassia's masterpiece. Crazy.


The three sides of Jared's house.

The kids (minus Cooper, who had already walked back to our house) and their creations. One of these days, I'll get all the kids looking at the camera and smiling at the same time!


There we go!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving 2014

Because we've lived in so many different places during our marriage and rarely near family, we have been invited to spend Thanksgiving with other friends over the years. And we are extremely grateful for all those opportunities!

Just for kicks and giggles, we tried to remember where we were each year since we were engaged. We *think* this is mostly accurate! If not, please help us set the record straight! :) 

1996--Pocatello, Idaho with Jared, my Uncle Brent and Aunt Charlene and their family.
1997--Ogden, Utah with Keith and Sherrie Gardner and Keith's extended family.
1998--Jared was living and working in IL so he spent it with his parents; I was in Ogden at school and spent it with my girlfriend Sarah Smith and her family.
1999--Pontiac, Illinois at Jared's parents' house with his family.
2000--Jake's first Thanksgiving, at our apartment in Layton, Utah with our sisters, Nicole Hough and Michelle Lee.
2001--Orlando, Florida at a restaurant. We were there for a "Lee/Beynon/Hough/Merrill" family reunion.
2002--Kalamazoo, Michigan about a month after Cooper was born. Jared's parents came to see us. I had no desire and not much physical ability or strength to spend all day in the kitchen cooking, so we ditched tradition and went to the Old Country Buffet for dinner and came back for some pies. It was awesome!
2003--Pontiac, IL ? 
2004--Forest Grove, Oregon with John and Lauren Schneider? 
2005--Jared was in IL for rotations, but Jake, Cooper and I flew out to spend Thanksgiving with the Houghs and then Jared flew back home to Oregon with us a couple weeks later.
2006--Hillsboro, Oregon with Gordon and Rachel Wilde and a couple other families from the ward.
2007--We were days from closing on our first home and in the midst of boxes and boxes. Our sweet friends, Chris and Meredith Horne, from our ward invited our family over for Thanksgiving so we wouldn't have to worry about a thing. 
2008--Aloha, Oregon at our house...the first time I ever made my own turkey. Jared was working at the urgent care so we turned down some offers and did our own thing. Our friends, Andy and Shocis Baldwin, and their four kids came over afterwards and we had desserts together. 
2009--Aloha, Oregon at our house for the second time in a row, but this time Grandma and Grandpa Lee were able to be there with us!
2010--Aloha, Oregon with our family friends, the Prestwiches, and lots of fun game playing.
2011--Hillsboro, Oregon with the McCullough Clan and Durrants.
2012--Hillsboro, Oregon at the McCullough home with the Durrant family, too.
2013--Aloha, Oregon at our home with the Woods family from our ward. They were a student family and we felt that it was now our turn to give back and host Thanksgiving for others who are away from home. 
2014--College Station, Texas

(Phew...that was quite the mental exercise and truth be told, I failed on several of those years, if it hadn't been for my calendars and pictures for proof!)

Sometime in October, I remember Rachel Olsen, the Relief Society president, asking me specifically about our plans for Thanksgiving. I told her we didn't have any. She told me about a couple in the ward who, as a student family with no place to go, reserves the cultural hall at the church and invites anyone who can't be with family or who doesn't have any other plans, to join them for a Thanksgiving potluck and dessert and games. We were invited and it was a wonderful way to make just a little bit of food but feast on a lot!!

This is "my" famous apple pie. It's actually in my recipe files as 'Grandma's Apple Pie' because I thought it was Grandma's recipe. When I was referring to this pie in a conversation with my mom, she informed me it was in fact, she, who found the recipe. Haha! Ooops. Oh well. She's a grandma now, so I left the title as is. ;) People will do many things for this pie. I love it because there's no rolling of a crust. And because it's baked in a brown paper bag. For those who are wondering, I've only had one fire. And so has my mom. So once you've had one, you should be good to go!! ;)

We decided to make two turkeys. Jared wanted turkey leftovers with stuffing which is the downside of a potluck. Leftovers are not likely. So I made this big boy the day before Thanksgiving. I was most pleased with the way it turned out since I think that was only the second turkey I've ever made.

Later that day, Cooper made some deviled eggs and I made the pumpkin pies. The recipe I have makes two pies. But it never fails, no matter how full I get the deep dish pie shells, I always end up with extra pie filling. This time, Jared told me to save it. He is a lover of most things pumpkin, so he definitely piqued my curiosity. Was he going to drink it straight, like egg nog? (Ew.) When he got home from work, he dug out the vanilla ice cream and made a pumpkin shake. Gotta give him props for creativity.

Always use your kids as test subjects first, just in case it's bad or poison. :)

But it was a hit!

What follows are the many faces of Jared's pumpkin shake pleasure after experiencing the first sip to judge the result of his Thanksgiving concoction.

The verdict? Pure pumpkin heaven. Personally, I think it's gross. But Jared was sure proud of himself and the big boys loved it, too.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast and afternoon at the church with our new ward members and others. If you're not with family, or going to an-all-you-can-eat buffet, that is definitely the next best way to do it! With FRAMILY (friends who are your family. :)

We could not believe how WARM it was that day (November 27th.) The sun was so bright, Karcyn had to look away. Fall is Texas is amazing!!